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Repeat offender who has cost taxpayers millions by eating metal from jail cells he’s occupied is headed back to the clink

Lamont Cathey (Illinois Department of Corrections)

Lamont Cathey (Illinois Department of Corrections)

A 26-year-old man who has cost taxpayers millions in medical costs for his hair-raising habit of eating metal from the jail cells he’s occupied is headed back to the clink, according to reports.

Lamont Cathey, once reportedly a promising basketball prospect with a troubled past, was sentenced on charges of identity theft, burglary, aiding and abetting, possession of a stolen vehicle, aggravated fleeing and other charges, jail records show.

Online jail records show he has been at the Pontiac Correctional Center since March 1. He has a projected parole date of May 14, 2024, and a projected discharge date of May 14, 2025.

The news stems from a case in February 2022 when a man leaving a yoga class discovered someone had broken into his locker and taken his wallet, phone, keys and Maserati, CWBChicago reported.

Over the years, he has cost Cook County taxpayers more than $2 million for ingesting metal and other items at the lockups in Illinois.

He has eaten screws, thumbtacks, leather, needles, and a four-inch piece of metal, CWBChicago said.

His mother, Lorine Barber, told CBS News he had had up to 20 surgeries by 2016 for eating screws, nails, “and pieces of whatever falls off the benches … paint, he don’t [sic] care.

“The doctor was like, ‘He’s gonna [sic] make it if he just stops eating (expletive),” she said, adding that her son needed psychological help.

Cathey wasn’t the only inmate apparently working on an iron-rich diet.

CBS reported inmates swallowing screws, unidentified metal, buttons, the contents of ice packs, and even small parts of a wheelchair.

“I’m at a loss,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart told the network. “I don’t know how to prevent some of this stuff anymore.”

The Chicago Tribune reported that Cathey was at the center of an unusual court fight between Loyola hospital and Cook County after he had run up a $500,000 medical bill.

The paper reported that he had a tough childhood without a father. He had a chance to play basketball at a Division II college until he was arrested for taking cash from a pizza parlor safe when he was 17, the Tribune said.

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