Fake U.S. marshal convicted after pulling gun in Chicago theater

A Will County man who drew his concealed handgun and announced he was a deputy U.S. marshal after an annoyed Chicago movie audience told him to stop talking on his phone was convicted Wednesday of impersonating a federal agent.

A jury found that Michael Bonin, 49, of Beecher, posed as a deputy U.S. marshal on Dec. 4, 2014, at the AMC River East 21 at 322 E. Illinois, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

A Chicago cop moonlighting as a security officer had escorted Bonin out of the theater after the disturbance. The officer saw Bonin’s concealed .45-caliber handgun and looked at his fake U.S. marshal’s badge, which he thought was real.

The officer — whose full-time job was with police internal affairs — told Bonin he could return to the movie as long as he stayed quiet. Asked why he did that, the officer, Brian Reidy, explained in an evidence hearing, “Because he was law enforcement.”

“We’re going to give you a break, a warning this time. Just be quiet in the theater and enjoy yourself,” Reidy said he told Bonin.

But Bonin wasn’t done acting up.

After re-entering the theater, he once again shouted he was a marshal and was escorted out. On-duty cops checked his identification before letting him leave.

Federal authorities later obtained a text message that one panicked moviegoer sent that night.

“Just got out of the movie . . . drunk US marshal with a gun threatened the audience,” the message said. “Then the police let him back into the theater because he’s a US marshal and then he basically told the audience we can’t do s— because he’s US marshal.”

In 2015, Bonin’s attorneys tried to have the case dismissed by saying he was engaging in protected free speech, but the judge rejected that argument. On Wednesday, his lawyer told jurors during closing arguments that Bonin was a “bounty hunter” with a “collection of bounty hunter stuff.”

Bonin took the stand earlier in the week and told jurors he worked in “fugitive recovery” and was “very proud of that.” When prosecutors pointed out he’d never actually apprehended a fugitive, Bonin said, “I haven’t had a chance to yet.”

Bonin was arrested on Jan. 20, 2015, when seven officers arrived at his home at 6:30 a.m., records show. After authorities knocked on his door in Beecher, they heard Bonin say he needed to get dressed. Just as they were getting ready to break his door down, Bonin opened the door in his underwear with a .45-caliber pistol in his right hand.

His lawyer complained in court filings that the officers then “pulled him out into the cold wearing only his underwear” and handcuffed him.