A prominent dem politician from a family of longtime power brokers in Illinois was just indicted.
Illinois state Sen. Thomas E. Cullerton, a member of the powerful and very connected Cullerton dynasty, has been indicted by federal authorities on embezzlement charges.
Cullerton allegedly looted almost $275,000 from the Teamsters union via a ghost job. There have been quite a few major indictments of powerful Dem politicians in Chicago and many insiders have flipped so you can expect more heads to roll soon.
From The Chicago Tribune: The indictment, made public Friday morning, charges Cullerton with 39 counts of embezzlement and one count each of conspiracy and making false statements. He will be arraigned later in Chicago’s federal court. Each of the charges carries up to five years in prison if convicted.
Cullerton, 49, of Villa Park, is a distant cousin of Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago. He previously served as village president of Villa Park and was first elected to the state Senate in 2012.
His attorney, John Theis, said in an emailed statement Friday that “the allegations are simply not true, and we will be defending the charges in court.”
“As an honorably discharged veteran of the United States Army and highly respected public servant, Tom Cullerton is a person who is dedicated to his family, constituents and all Illinoisans,” Theis said.
“The action by the U.S. Department of Justice has nothing to do with Mr. Cullerton’s work in the Illinois State Senate but is the result of false claims by disgraced Teamsters boss John Coli in an apparent attempt to avoid penalties for his wrongdoing.”
The indictment alleges that from March 2013 to February 2016 Cullerton fraudulently obtained $188,320 in salary, bonuses and cellphone and vehicle allowances from the Teamsters, as well as $64,068 in health and pension contributions. He used those proceeds to pay personal expenses such as his mortgage, utilities and groceries, according to the charges. He also fraudulently received $21,678 in reimbursed medical claims, bringing the combined loss for the Teamsters to $274,066, authorities alleged.
According to the indictment, Cullerton was a member of Teamsters Local Union 734 before assuming his state Senate seat in January 2013.
That March, Cullerton was hired by Coli as an “organizer” for the union, according to the charges. While not naming Coli, the indictment made it clear it was him by identifying Individual A as president of Teamsters Joint Council 25, a post Coli held at the time.
Over the next three years, Cullerton did little or no work as an organizer. In fact, when union supervisors requested that he perform his job duties, Cullerton “routinely ignored their requests,” the indictment said. Coli “ignored and failed to act upon repeated complaints” by a supervisor that Cullerton didn’t even show up for work, the charges alleged.