20 years for Calumet City burglary; trying to have witness killed
June 19, 2012 8:36PM
Juan R. Vanga / photo from Illinois Dept. of Corrections
A former high school football player has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to a burglary and then trying to find someone to kill a witness to his crime.
Juan R. Vanga was a 17-year-old football player at George Washington High School when he was arrested on Jan. 14, 2011, for a home burglary in Calumet City, according to Cook County Sheriff’s police.
A month later, while being held in the Cook County Jail, investigators discovered he was actively seeking someone to kill a 17-year-old girl who was a witness to the crime, according to prosecutors.
On June 4, Vanga pleaded guilty to one count of solicitation of murder, and Judge Stanley Sacks sentenced him to 16 years in prison, according to Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokesman Andy Conklin.
And on June 14 in Markham, Vanga pleaded guilty to one count of residential burglary and was sentenced to four years in prison, with the sentences to be served consecutively, Conklin said.
Vanga was being housed in a minimum/medium-security jail building when he talked with another inmate about the impact of the witness’ death on his case. He allegedly told the inmate her death could be made to look like a “carjacking,” prosecutors said.
On another occasion, he said the witness could be “kidnapped, raped and dumped in a creek.”
The inmate told him if he wanted the girl killed he could put him in touch with his brother, and Vanga wrote his name and jail ID on a piece of paper and asked the inmate to pass it along, prosecutors said. Instead, the inmate alerted jail authorities.
He then gave Vanga a phone number purportedly belonging to his brother, but in actuality belonging to an undercover sheriff’s officer. Vanga called and set up a meeting, during which he told the officer he wanted the witness killed and gave him her address, prosecutors said.
Vanga agreed to pay $500 upfront and $1,000 after the girl was killed, prosecutors said.
All the conversations with the undercover sheriff’s officer were recorded, and Vanga was arrested on the new charge and moved to maximum security status. Now 18, he is being held at the Stateville Correctional Center.