The 23-year-old grandson of former Marion County Sheriff Gerald Benjamin was sentenced Wednesday in Jefferson County Court to 7-years in the Illinois Department of Corrections on charges related to the September break-in at the former sheriff’s Iuka home.
Nathaniel L. Benjamin was arrested during a meeting in Mt. Vernon with a potential buyer for guns taken from his grandfather’s home, but the buyer was a confidential police informant.
Officers reportedly found in the car a number of guns stolen from the grandfather’s home, including a service weapon registered to the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, and drugs. An additional stolen firearm was later discovered at Nathaniel Benjamin’s Mt. Vernon home.
He had been charged with two counts Class X armed violence, Class 2 possession of a stolen firearm, Class 4 aggravated unlawful use of weapon on a person, and two counts Class 4 possession of a controlled substance.
He was found guilty of possessing a stolen firearm — for which he was sentenced to 7-years, and the two counts possession of a controlled substance — for which he was sentenced to 4-years each. All sentences are to be served concurrently. The other charges were dismissed.
Benjamin is still facing charges in Marion County, including a Class 1 felony for residential burglary in connection with the break-in at his grandfather’s home, and two unrelated counts of Class 4 unlawful possession of a credit card. A January 22 date has been set for a jury trial in both cases.
In November Benjamin testified in the Marion County jury trial of co-defendant 26-year-old Jerry M. Courtney, of Centralia, and reportedly admitted from the stand that he, Courtney and co-defendant Pete Johnson broke into his grandfather’s home and took the guns.
He testified that Courtney’s girlfriend, Bianca Meeks, drove them to the home and returned later to pick them up. He further said some of the guns were given to Courtney and Johnson for helping in the burglary.
Meeks, who confirmed her role from the stand, is next scheduled in court February 21. Johnson, who is charged in Jefferson County, is next scheduled in court January 22.
Jurors ultimately found Courtney guilty of the burglary to the former sheriff’s home and additionally found him guilty of two counts unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon and Class X aggravated possession of between 11 and 20 stolen firearms.
Courtney is facing between 6 and 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections on the Class X count, alone. He is scheduled to be sentenced on those convictions, at 10 a.m. Friday, January 4.