Ill. inmate gives up accomplice in exchange for transfer

Johnny Plass didn't like Stateville Correctional Center

By Frank Main
Chicago Sun Times

CHICAGO — Last year, murder convict Johnny Plass wanted a change of scenery.

He didn't like Stateville Correctional Center and wanted to move.

So he gave Chicago Police the name of a second alleged accomplice in a 1998 slaying in which he and another man have been convicted.

Detectives Kevin McDonald and Mike Mancuso jumped on the tip under the supervision of Sgt. Bill Whalen in the Grand and Central detective headquarters.

And based on DNA evidence collected from the murder scene, along with witness statements, they have obtained a murder charge against Andrei G. Pagsisihan, who was serving prison time for burglary.

Asked if the tip will lead to new prison digs for Plass, McDonald said, "I think we'll be able to accommodate that."

State records show Plass is now being housed at Hill Correctional Center.

On March 5, 1998, Plass, Pagsisihan and Luis Sosa walked into the Diamond and Gold Store at 4926 W. Diversey, police said.

Ricky Russo, the 41-year-old owner of the pawn shop, knew Plass and Sosa and let them in the back door.

"They proceeded to pull guns and rob the store," McDonald said.

The robbers took Russo and an employee into the basement. They started to fight and the employee was shot three or four times but survived.

Russo, meanwhile, struggled with Pagsisihan, whom he and the employee did not know, McDonald said.

During the struggle, Pagsisihan's gun went off, killing Russo and accidentally wounding Pagsisihan, McDonald said.

Blood evidence recovered from the crime scene was placed in storage.

Plass and Sosa were identified by the employee, who knew their nicknames, and were eventually convicted in the murder, but Pagsisihan remained free.

When police received the tip from Plass early last year, they tested the blood evidence against Pagsisihan's DNA and received a match.

The employee identified Pagsisihan in a lineup, and Pagsisihan was charged with murder.

Pagsisihan, who has a tattoo reading "Andrei, I Love You" on his chest, is expected to appear in Cook County bond court today.

Copyright 2010 Chicago Sun-Times, Inc.

Copyright © 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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