Former attorney, couple seek return of seized guns, cash in connection with 2015 case

Murder-for-hire defendant filed lawsuit against Will County deputy chief, sheriff’s office

A former attorney and an Elmwood Park couple want to regain property they said was seized by Will County Sheriff’s deputies in connection with a 2015 criminal case.

The small claims lawsuit was filed July 22 in Cook County court by former attorney Robert Gold-Smith, his friend Julio Centeno and Centeno’s wife, Olga Murashova, against Will County Deputy Chief Dan Jungles, “unknown officers” and the Will County sheriff’s office.

Gold-Smith said he was taking the lead on the lawsuit where all three plaintiffs are pro se litigants. The lawsuit requests the return of firearms, cash and other items the plaintiffs said were seized by deputies at Centeno’s Elmwood Park residence.

Jungles said the sheriff’s office does not make statements in reference to any pending lawsuits.

“I can tell you that the execution of the search warrant was in reference to a witness intimidation investigation, in which criminal charges were filed against Gold-Smith by the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office,” Jungles said.

He said the items listed in the lawsuit are still in the custody of the sheriff’s office and that the firearms were seized because Centeno is a felon who cannot possess them. Jungles said Centeno was advised to get a court order in either 2015 or 2016 to get the firearms back due to that reason.

Martin McManaman, an attorney for the sheriff’s office, did not respond to messages and a call. McManaman filed a motion on Monday to transfer the case to Will County.

Gold-Smith’s lawsuit alleged that in September 2015, Will County deputies executed a search warrant at Centeno’s residence.

The lawsuit claimed Jungles spearheaded a “search warrant tactical team” that seized computers, two handguns, a wristwatch, $1,300 in cash and miscellaneous papers.

“Defendants went beyond the scope of the search warrant by seizing the weapons and the cash. Only the computers, papers and wristwatch were specified in the warrant application,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said the seized property was never used as evidence at trial and Centeno made numerous requests for its return. If the items are unavailable, the plaintiffs request $5,360, which they deem the fair market value for that property, the lawsuit said.

Centeno testified at a 2017 trial where Gold-Smith was charged with communicating with a jail inmate who is a witness in the murder-for-hire case against Gold-Smith.

Prosecutors said at trial that Gold-Smith used Centeno to try to influence that witness and potentially offer him a bribe, court records show.

A jury found Gold-Smith guilty of communicating with the witness. He has since appealed his conviction.

Gold-Smith said he asked Centeno to visit the witness and ask him “if he would fess up by signing an affidavit admitting that he framed me.”

In the murder-for-hire case, Gold-Smith was accused of trying to hire the inmate to kill his ex-wife. He said the case centered on a “blatantly and flagrantly fabricated recording.”

Gold-Smith’s conviction in the murder-for-hire case was reversed. The case was sent back to Will County for a new trial.

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver covers crime and courts for The Herald-News