Thaddeus Jimenez won a staggering $25 million verdict in 2012 for his wrongful murder conviction in Illinois. But instead of building a new life, he used the windfall to rejuvenate his old gang, paying recruitment bonuses, buying guns and fancy cars, and even giving cash prizes to members willing to tattoo their faces with the Simon City Royals insignia, the Chicago Tribune reports. Federal prosecutors called one of Jimenez’ shootings a “uniquely appalling” act even for a city with a national reputation for rampant gang violence. “(Jimenez) could have used this money in any number of ways — to assist friends and family, contribute to the community, sponsor others wrongfully convicted or simply live in comfort for the rest of his natural life — instead he chose to build a gang,” said federal prosecutors Michelle Petersen and Kathryn Malizia.
Jimenez’s zeal for the gang life didn’t end with his arrest. Weeks after he was jailed for the shooting, authorities intercepted a six-page letter Jimenez wrote from Cook County Jail decrying “impostors” who had taken his money and assuring his fellow Royals he was still in control. “When the big dawg is away, the cats will play,” Jimenez wrote in neat printing. “Not a scratch on me, and yes, I’m still running the s—.” Prosecutors are seeking a 10-year prison term, the maximum possible, in court today for Jimenez. His attorney, Steven Greenberg, sought a minimum sentence of 3 1/2 years, noting that his client had already spent 16 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. “Ironically, the restitution he received for his terrible injuries did not bring healing, it just drew other vultures to pick at his wounds,” said Greenberg.