U Of I Football Staffer Faces Weapons Charges
By Jeff Bossert
A staff member and former player with the University of Illinois’ football team faces weapons charges after an incident on Interstate 74 Saturday.
Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Reitz said Matthew Sinclair, 31, of Champaign was to be arraigned Monday for allegedly pointing a gun outside a pickup truck at 3 p.m. that afternoon.
Sinclair, Assistant Director of Player Personnel for the football team, faces three counts of Aggravated Unlawful Use of Weapons and one county charge of Unlawful Use of Weapons.
Reitz said a witness on the interstate saw Sinclair point the weapon at a blue SUV with State of Illinois plates. Reitz said others involved in the incident also work for U of I Athletics.
Both vehicles exited Lincoln Avenue, and were located by Urbana Police near Green Street. In the truck, officers found an unloaded firearm in the center console, a loaded magazine with 16 rounds of ammunition in the driver door’s front pocket, as well as a set of brass knuckles.
According to Reitz, Sinclair told officers he had the firearm with him for protection as he and the others involved were going to Purdue for the Illini football game, and admitted "pointing the gun out the window at the other vehicle while driving on I-74 as a joke."
Sinclair, a former Illini player, has a prior conviction for battery in 2004. The charges allege that he had a gun while in a vehicle, that the firearm was uncased and unloaded, but accessible to ammunition, and that Sinclair did not have a valid concealed carry permit.
The Aggravated Unlawful Use of Weapons charges are class 4 felonies, punishable up to one to three years in prison. The brass knuckles charge is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail at the Champaign County Correctional Center.