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In the latest development of the take-down of Chicago corruption, another big name Chicago Democrat has been indicted!
Sen. Thomas E. Cullerton was indicted today on multiple embezzlement charges that claim he accepted a $275K salary despite not having done the work promised.
News of this comes just days after former Teamster leader John T. Coli plead guilty to his own charges and promised to cooperate with feds to expose crooked politicians!
Take a look at this breaking news that hit Twitter:
The Chicago Tribune has more details on the indictment:
Illinois state Sen. Thomas E. Cullerton has been indicted by federal authorities on embezzlement charges alleging he pocketed almost $275,000 in salary and benefits from the Teamsters union despite doing little or no work.
The disclosure of the charges against Cullerton, D-Villa Park, came three days after former longtime Teamsters boss John Coli Sr. pleaded guilty to extortion charges and agreed to cooperate with federal authorities.
According to the indictment made public Friday, Coli conspired with Cullerton in 2013 to give the newly elected senator a do-nothing job with the Teamsters. Over the next three years, the two ignored complaints from supervisors when Cullerton failed to even show up for work, according to the charges.
The indictment charged Cullerton with 39 counts of embezzlement and one count each of conspiracy and making false statements. Each of the charges carry up to five years in prison if convicted. He will be arraigned later in Chicago’s federal court.
Cullerton, 49, a distant cousin of Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, previously served as village president of Villa Park and was first elected to the state Senate in 2012.
In an emailed statement, Cullerton’s attorney, John Theis, called the charges untrue and vowed to fight the allegations.
“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.”
John Patterson, a spokesman for John Cullerton, said Friday the charges were “clearly part of an ongoing investigation” but declined to comment on the specific allegations.
The Chicago Sun Times also stated:
Organizers with Teamsters Joint Council 25 are tasked with protecting middle-class union jobs.
They’re supposed to recruit new members and support picketing and strikes.
State Sen. Thomas E. Cullerton should have been well aware of those duties — for that was his side job for which he was compensated handsomely: $188,320 in salary and other pay, and $64,068 in and pension contributions, from the time he was hired in 2013 until he left in 2016, records show.
He even got bonuses every December.
But rather than toil for the joint council – a powerful labor consortium of two-dozen Teamsters chapters in the Chicago region and more than 100,000 members — Cullerton was essentially a ghost payroller, according to criminal charges announced Friday against Cullerton in the latest shoe to drop in an ongoing corruption case.
And this “conspiracy” went on with the knowledge and consent of the former head of Joint Council 25, disgraced Teamsters boss John Coli Sr., according to Cullerton’s indictment, which was made public the same week Coli pleaded guilty to a scheme in which he was shaking down Cinespace Chicago Film Studios for in exchange for labor peace.
Federal prosecutors said in other court papers that Coli has agreed to cooperate with them — which could mean less prison time for him. And that “cooperation played a part in the Cullerton indictment,” according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.
Neither the U.S. attorney’s office nor the FBI is talking publicly about any of this.
Cullerton — a Villa Park Democrat who is cousins with state Senate President John Cullerton of Chicago — could not be reached for comment.
But his attorney, John Theis, released a statement that said: “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. 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. These allegations are simply not true, and we will be defending the charges in court.”
The charges mostly related to embezzlement, with multiple counts that each carry a potential prison term of five years. Cullerton is one of at least seven state legislators charged with crimes over the past decade.
John Cullerton said in a statement Friday: “This is clearly part of an ongoing investigation. The Senate president reminds everyone we have a system of justice that presumes everyone innocent until proven otherwise.”
A spokesman for John Cullerton said that, as far as he knows, the Senate president has not been contacted by federal authorities. John Cullerton would not talk to a reporter.
The indictment hits one of the most entrenched dynasties in Illinois politics, a family whose political fortunes in the city stretch back before the Great Chicago Fire.
Thomas Cullerton is a scion of the dynasty that gave Chicago legendary ward heeler P.J. “Parky” Cullerton and the famed “Cullerton seat” in the City Council.
He is a descendent of Edward Cullerton, one of Chicago’s original settlers. The family’s political activism began just before the Chicago Fire of 1871 with the election of saloon keeper Edward “Foxy” Cullerton and has continued almost uninterrupted ever since.