Trial of former aide to Ald. Jim Gardiner delayed

The trial of a former aide to Ald. James Gardiner on charges he allegedly tried to sell a machine gun to an undercover ATF agent while on the clock for the city is unlikely to take place before the April 4 runoff election.

A bench trial for Charles Sikanich set to begin Thursday was canceled because a "personal matter" made Sikanich’s attorney unavailable, a spokesman for Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said. Sikanich’s next court date is March 30, when a new trial date will be assigned, the spokesman said.

Gardiner in February finished at the head of a pack of six candidates but will face attorney Megan Mathias in a second round of voting.

Sikanich’s arrest in 2021 was one of several scandals from Gardiner’s first term that became campaign fodder for his opponents. According to a statement announcing the charges, Sikanich arranged to sell an M-40 machine gun to an undercover ATF agent during hours he was on the clock for the city Department of Streets and Sanitation and showed up for the exchange driving a city vehicle.

In court filings, Sikanich said the machine gun was a family heirloom and had been rendered inoperable, though the attorney general’s office has said it could have been restored to working order with minimal repairs.


Gardiner and Sikanich also face a lawsuit filed by construction worker Benjamin George, who claims the alderman and Sikanich harassed him and ultimately had him arrested under false pretenses after he found Sikanich’s cellphone and tried to return it at the 16th District police station.

Gardiner also has been sued by ward residents who claim he violated their First Amendment rights by blocking them or deleting their comments on Gardiner’s Facebook page.

In 2021, a community website that is critical of Gardiner published text messages that showed the alderman making crude, misogynistic and homophobic remarks about some of his peers on the City Council and political consultants who worked for Mayor Lori Lightfoot. 

Gardiner read an apology for the remarks on the council floor. Other texts that showed Gardiner seeming to withhold ward services from residents based on their political leanings attracted the attention of federal investigators.