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Federal inmate killed in Ill. jail fight

By Dan P. Blake
Tribune staff reporter

CHICAGO, Ill. — An inmate at the Loop's Metropolitan Correctional Center died Wednesday morning from injuries he suffered in an altercation with another prisoner this week, federal officials said.

Jason Katz, 32, was serving a 9-month sentence after pleading guilty in October in federal court in the Northern District of Indiana to the illegal sale of a firearm by a licensed dealer, said Vincent Shaw, a spokesman for the prison.

Officials are investigating what led to the altercation inside the jail Tuesday afternoon. Katz was battered inside the building, 71 W. Van Buren St., and was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he died at 6:55 a.m. Wednesday, officials said.

Shaw declined to comment on the circumstances of the altercation inside the MCC Tuesday, including where it took place or whether a weapon was used.

FBI spokesman Ross Rice said an investigation was launched into the incident, but there had been no arrests or charges as of Wednesday.

Katz's South Bend attorney, Andre Gammage, said Katz had two young children and no record of violent offenses.

"Nothing that I saw in his criminal record would suggest that he would have been subject to any violence," Gammage said in a telephone interview.

Katz was the second MCC inmate to die over the last week. Last Thursday, Alvin Fleming, 70, died after being taken from the jail to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. An autopsy by the Cook County medical examiner's office ruled his death was from natural causes.

A gun Katz sold at a gun show in 2007 "off the books," or without proper paperwork, was the beginning of a chain of events that led to the fatal shooting of a South Bend police officer and the wounding of another, according to federal records.

Katz's customer had first fired the gun he bought from Katz near a nightclub but used a different gun to shoot the two officers that night, records show. He was later fatally shot by responding officers.

Copyright 2008 Chicago Tribune

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