By Jason Meisner
11:17 PM EST, December 6, 2012
A weary state Sen. Donne Trotter was released on $25,000 bond Thursday after spending the night in a Chicago police lockup on a felony charge that he tried to bring a handgun aboard an aircraft at O'Hare International Airport.
Dressed in a tan suede jacket, Trotter, who is seeking former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s congressional seat, left the Leighton Criminal Court Building amid a throng of reporters, photographers and cameramen. As he was peppered with questions about his political future, Trotter looked straight ahead and said, "Not now, not today."
When one reporter asked if he was still "running," Trotter quipped, "From you." Trotter then jumped into a black sedan and was whisked away.
Trotter, 62, was charged Wednesday with trying to board a jet with a gun in his carry-on luggage, a felony that could bring probation or up to three years in prison. He posted the required $2,500 to secure the bond and agreed to surrender any firearms while awaiting trial.
According to prosecutors and court records, Trotter told police he got off work as a security guard early Wednesday and forgot that his gun was in a zipped-up side pocket of his garment bag, along with a magazine containing six live rounds.
Transportation Security Administration officials spotted the .25-caliber Beretta and ammunition in the bag as Trotter went through a security checkpoint at O'Hare's Terminal 2 on Wednesday morning, authorities said. He was trying to board an 8 a.m. flight to Reagan International Airport in Washington, Assistant State's Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said.
A source has said Trotter was expected to attend the annual conference of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators in Washington.
Trotter has a valid firearm owner's identification card and is licensed by the state to carry the gun while on the security job and while traveling to and from work at the security company, Scaduto said. The weapon, however, was not registered in the city of Chicago as required by municipal ordinance, Scaduto said.
Trotter's lawyer, Joshua Herman, told Judge Israel Desierto that his client has 24 years of public service and no criminal record of any kind. He has been married 26 years and has four grown children and six grandchildren, the lawyer said.
"His life has been dedicated to serving the people of Illinois," Herman said in court.
Trotter kept his hands folded in front of him during the brief hearing. Several family members, including Trotter's wife and brother, attended the hearing but declined to speak as they left the courthouse.
Herman told reporters that Trotter would not take questions. "It's been a long day" and he just wants to get home to his family, he said.
The South Side lawmaker spent an afternoon and night in the lockup at the Jefferson Park District station at 5151 N. Milwaukee Ave. before being taken Thursday morning to the lockup at bond court.
Trotter is among at least a half-dozen announced Democratic contenders in the 2nd Congressional District contest to succeed Jackson, who announced his resignation Nov. 21 amid federal ethics probes and a diagnosis of bipolar depression.
The media frenzy surrounding Trotter's arrest was fueled by reports that he appeared to have the inside track toward gaining the formal endorsement of the district's top Cook County Democrats at a slating session next week.
Trotter is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing Wednesday in branch court at 5555 W. Grand Ave.
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