Murder-for-hire plot at Cook County Jail, Sheriff Dart says

September 24, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Dart says a jail inmate solicited the murders of witnesses in an upcoming trial.

Eighteen-year-old Pharoah Morris is facing new charges. He is already awaiting trial on charges in the 2010 murder of a 16-year-old Bowen High School classmate.

Early this summer, jail officials got information that an inmate was looking to hire a hit – four, actually -- three young women and a young man, who may testify against the inmate.

With that information, the sheriff's department sent in one of their own to see if the inmate would go forward. According to the Cook County Sheriff, he did.

We know that those accused of serious crime may await trial while in the Cook County Jail. But what was revealed Monday is that, while awaiting trial, occasionally inmates will attempt to make hits outside the jail.

"Unfortunately this happens a lot, to get it to the point where we're charging them two, three, four, five times a year," said Sheriff Dart.

Dart says his office thwarted one of those plans allegedly hatched by Pharoah Morris. Morris is accused of murdering Deantonio Goss in 2010 as Goss left Bowen High School.

Sheriff Dart says, when they got wind of Morris's alleged plan to have four witnesses killed, they sent in an undercover officer.

"This is a person who has had a lot of interactions with the law, who think he can do what he wants when he wants," Dart said. "And we're watching him."

Morris is now facing two new charges: Solicitation of murder for hire and solicitation of murder, on top of the initial murder charge.

Dart says the department is vigilant when it comes to the safety of those who are victimized or witness crimes.

"We have our net wide open looking for anybody that might be trying to intimidate somebody or might be trying to harm somebody," said Dart.

The sheriff says, while there are murder-for-hire plots investigated at the jail, he says the inmates usually don't go through with it. In this case, Morris was charged last week with the murder-for-hire case.

Morris is now awaiting trial on two cases.

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