I-Team Report: Hiding in Plain Sight

Bartosz Sikorski

November 28, 2012 8:35:23 PM PST
A Polish fugitive lived in Chicago for 10 years, escaping deportation even though he was arrested and jailed numerous times.

The man who was hiding in plain sight for a decade is Bartosz Sikorski. His case has prompted an unusually angry statement from federal immigration officials in Chicago, who are highly critical of a year-old Cook County ordinance that they say results in the "daily release of criminal aliens to the streets."

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents deported 32-year-old Sikorski on Monday, sending out this photo and a press release describing how he had been a fugitive from justice for more than 10 years in his native Poland.

Federal authorities say Sikorski ran down a woman in Warsaw and killed her in 2002, then fled to Chicago a few months later.

The backstory on this case reveals that Sikorski was arrested at least 10 times over the years in Cook County. However, it wasn't until last August that U.S. officials knew there was a warrant for his arrest in Poland.

Former FBI official and ex-Chicago police superintendent Jody Weis, now ABC7'S public safety expert, says overseas law enforcement agencies may need to do a better job sharing criminal warrants.

"There is not a system locally that a policeman or the Cook County folks would know -- and pull up -- and know that this guy is wanted for murder in a foreign country," said Weis.

Even though Sikorski was hiding in plain sight, now he is being used as the latest example in a crusade against the county ordinance that allows suspected illegal immigrants to be released from custody without notifying federal immigration agents, even if the suspect has a hold or detainer on them.

ICE officials state: "Due to the current ordinance of not honoring ICE's detainers, egregious criminals are released to the various communities in and around Cook County to continue their criminal activities, and endanger innocent people."

Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, who championed the law, disputes that immigration enforcement is disrupted and criticized ICE for not being on top of the Sikorski case.

"To suggest the county's policy endangers innocent people is unfounded," Preckwinkle said in a statement. "Detaining an individual in the county correctional facility past the point when he or she is free to go subjects the county to liability for unlawful detention."

"I'd hate to see someone get out because of a set policy that doesn't address those very, very violent offenders because they're a threat to all of us," said Weis.

Former superintendent Weis, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and several members of the county board say they would like to see illegal immigrants with violent backgrounds or current warrants excluded from the ordinance.