Ottawa bank robber gets almost 40 years in prison

Williams sentenced for 2018 robberies, including Gurnee and Aurora

Old Second Bank in Ottawa

A suburban Chicago man was sentenced Tuesday in federal court to almost 40 years in prison for a series of bank robberies including the 2018 holdup of Old Second Bank in Ottawa.

James D. Williams, 46, of Bartlett was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to 476 months (39 years and eight months) for bank robbery, using a firearm during a crime of violence, conspiracy to commit bank robbery, possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and conspiracy to transfer a firearm to a felon.

Heading into his sentencing, Williams argued that the government’s recommendation would be tantamount to a death sentence. In response, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois said Williams had a long history of violent crime and had never shown any accountability or remorse.

Williams, along with a co-conspirator, robbed three banks between May 11 and May 31 in 2018 using an AK-47-style firearm during the holdups, which included banks in Gurnee and Aurora.

Williams’ co-conspirator, Alexis T. Handelman, 25, of Bartlett, pleaded guilty to committing the bank robberies and is awaiting sentencing. Williams’ wife, Jessica Sweeney Williams, pleaded guilty to providing a firearm to Williams and was sentenced to 24 months in prison.