COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — The latest episode in the legal saga of state Sen. Donne Trotter, once a prime candidate to replace disgraced former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress, continued Tuesday at Trotter's arraignment for allegedly trying to bring a gun onto a flight from O'Hare Airport.
Trotter's appearance came two weeks after the primary for the 2nd congressional district race, which Robin Kelly won over her Democratic rivals. Trotter sought the seat until he was arrested in December for carrying an unlicensed gun into the airport.
Trotter (D-Chicago) listened Tuesday as Cook County Judge Charles Burns detailed the charges of attempting to board an aircraft with a firearm, a felony, against him. Trotter nodded when the judge warned him that the state could try him in his absence if he failed to show up for a court date.
Outside court, defense attorney Thomas Durkin reiterated the argument that Trotter had no knowledge the gun was in his bag when he checked in for a flight to Washington, D.C., where he planned to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus.
"Nobody knowingly goes to the most important meeting of his life knowing he has a gun in his carry-on," Durkin said, standing next to Trotter, who didn't comment.
Trotter has a permit to carry a handgun while working as a security guard for Allpoints Security and Detective Inc. and traveling to and from his job. Trotter had a valid firearm owner's identification card that listed his address as his Senate office at the state Capitol Building rather than his South Shore home, sources said.
Law enforcement sources have also said their investigation will likely look into whether Trotter, who makes nearly $90,000 a year as senator, actually moonlighted as a security guard.
A separate state probe has been launched to determine if the Southeast Side security firm has acted as a “front” to procure firearm control cards for people who are not employed as armed guards, sources close to the investigation have said.
Trotter dropped out of the race to replace U.S.. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) after Jackson gave up his 2nd Congressional District last fall. Jackson pleaded guilty to improperly spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds.