2 Milwaukee women charged with drugging men in River North bars and robbing them, netting $85,000 in cash and valuables

Two Milwaukee women, an expectant mother and a 32-year-old phlebotomist, are accused of drugging 10 men who were partying in River North and then robbing them after they fell unconscious — netting $85,000 in cash, phones and jewelry.

Tiana Trammel, 25, and Tjwana Rainey, 32, ran the scheme from late January until last Sunday, authorities told a Cook County judge on Tuesday.

The two would lead drunken men from the bars and nightclubs of River North, often with an invitation to go back to their place, and then give them a drink from a small glass vial, prosecutors said during a bail hearing.

After downing the drink, the men would black out and later awake either in their own homes or by the side of the road, unharmed but missing their wallets and valuables, prosecutors said.

“We had one victim that awoke at the Lake Forest oasis,” Assistant State’s Attorney Paul Kiefer told Judge Charles Beach II during the hearing broadcast on YouTube.

The women used the stolen credit and debit cards at ATMs at Walmart and Target stores in the Milwaukee area where they live, Kiefer said.

The women were arrested early Sunday in River North after carrying a man from a downtown club to Trammell’s car, authorities said. Both were already on law enforcement’s radar by this time and a tracker had been placed on Trammell’s vehicle.

“The last couple of victims we have in the case, obviously the tracker aligns with what happened to those victims,” he said. Kiefer added that authorities also have surveillance video and license plate readers that captured Trammell’s movements.

Police recovered vials of suspected alcohol that are being analyzed to see what chemicals were used on the men, authorities said.

Trammel and Rainey, who appeared separately before the judge, each face charges of continuing a financial criminal enterprise and possession of a controlled substance.

Neither woman had a significant criminal history and both are mothers of young children, according to their attorneys. But Beach said drugging a person without their knowledge or consent was “an act of violence,” and set bail at $55,000 for Trammell and $45,000 for Rainey. Both are barred from having contact with the victims, and Trammell was barred from returning to Wisconsin during the case.

The criminal tradition of robbing bar hoppers by knocking them out with tainted drinks has its supposed origins in late 19th-century Chicago, where the legendary saloon owner Mickey Finn gave customers laced drinks, stealing money and sometimes clothing.

In recent years, the focus has been on protecting against “date rape” drugs put into cocktails in order to leave people vulnerable to sexual assault.


©2020 the Chicago Tribune

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