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Guard accused of helping smuggle pot to Bucktown bat attack suspect


HeriberViramontes

Heriberto Viramontes

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Updated: July 15, 2011 2:17AM



A Cook County jail guard and a Plainfield woman allegedly helped smuggle marijuana into the jail cell of the man accused of severely beating a petite Irish exchange student with a baseball bat last year.

Correctional officer Jerome Prusa, 50, and Heriberto Viramontes’ girlfriend Kira Lundgren, 22, were arrested on June 11 — just minutes after the cannabis was taken into the facility, the sheriff’s office said.

Viramontes, 32, was also charged with bringing contraband into a penal institution following the investigation, which became part of a larger probe into how prohibited objects ended up in inmates’ cells.

When she came to see Viramontes last month, Lundgren took a small amount of marijuana that she hid in her shoe and taped it under the visiting table, the sheriff’s office said.

Prusa was overseeing the room, and coincidentally, an undercover sting operation was underway. A female officer posing as a visitor walked into the area in a pre-arranged attempt to smuggle marijuana and cigarettes into the jail under Prusa’s watch, said Steve Patterson, a sheriff’s spokesman.

Lundgren, who did not know the woman was an undercover officer, asked her if she could make sure the pot was delivered to Viramontes, Patterson said. Prusa then allegedly unlocked the doors, letting the undercover officer into a secured part of the jail to leave the marijuana.

The pot was later found in Viramontes’ cell, the sheriff’s office said.

Investigators had not anticipated the alleged delivery to Viramontes when they set up the sting, Patterson said. Prusa allegedly also allowed the undercover officer to leave the marijuana and cigarettes she had originally brought.

Lundgren was arrested as she left Division 10 and was ordered held in lieu of $10,000 bail for bringing contraband into a penal institution.

Prusa, of Westchester, was immediately taken into custody. Authorities found he had two knives hidden in his uniform when he was arrested, the sheriff’s office said.

Prusa, a correctional officer since 2005, was ordered held in lieu of $40,000 bail for official misconduct, possession of a weapon in a penal institution, bringing a weapon into a penal institution and bringing contraband into a penal institution.

Prusa has been suspended and he has resigned from his duties as an auxiliary officer with the LaGrange Park Police Department.

Lundgren and Prusa have since been released after posting 10 percent of their respective bonds.

Viramontes was expected to appear in bond court Thursday for the cannabis charge, but the jail was on lockdown because of a small fire, assistant state’s attorney Jacqueline James said. He is expected to be back in court Friday.

Viramontes was ordered held without bail on attempted murder, aggravated battery and armed robbery charges for the April 23, 2010 Bucktown attacks on Natasha McShane and Stacy Jurich.

Viramontes’ former girlfriend Marcy Cruz, 26, was also charged in the beating.

Jurich, of Chicago, was hurt in the brutal assault, but the 4-foot-9, 100-pound McShane was most severely injured, suffering a cracked skull.

Doctors in Chicago had to remove a portion of McShane’s skull because of the brain swelling.

Though she showed progress while recovering here, McShane has struggled with infections, seizure and brain shunts since her parents took her back home to Northern Ireland, her father told the Sun-Times in April.

McShane can barely move, and the one word she can say with regularity is “sinn,” the Gaelic word for “we” or “us,” her father said.



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