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Sen. Tom Cullerton’s trial date set for month before 2022 primary

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2021

* Sarah Mansur

State Sen. Tom Cullerton, who was indicted in 2019 on charges of embezzlement, is set to go to trial in February next year, a federal judge said on Tuesday.

Cullerton, a Democrat from Villa Park, is scheduled to be tried in the U.S. District Court in Chicago, starting on Feb. 23, 2022.

The latest development in Cullerton’s criminal case came during a court hearing Tuesday morning before Judge Robert Gettleman. Cullerton’s federal trial was previously set for July 2020 but that date was scrapped when the pandemic halted jury trials.

The indictment, issued in August 2019, charges Cullerton with one count of conspiracy to embezzle from a labor union and employee benefit plans, 39 counts of embezzlement from a labor union, and one count of making false statements in a health care matter. He pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

* Jason Meisner

Cullerton was last reelected in 2018 and would next face voters in 2022. If he were to go on trial in February, it would be just a few weeks before the Illinois Democratic primary for the November general election. So far, no Democrat has publicly said they intend to challenge the incumbent if he elects to run.

* Jon Seidel

The case against Cullerton revolves around his role as an organizer for Teamsters Joint Council 25. He landed that job after his former employer, Hostess Brands, shut down in 2012. Former Teamsters boss John Coli told prosecutors he arranged for Cullerton to get that job “but did not believe the employment was legitimate,” Cullerton’s defense attorney has said.

Cullerton has been accused of collecting $188,320 in salary, bonuses and cellphone and vehicle allowances from the Teamsters, as well as $64,068 in health and pension contributions, while doing little or no work for the labor union. He also allegedly collected $21,678 in reimbursed medical claims.

Coli pleaded guilty in 2019 in an extortion case revolving around $325,000 in cash payments he received from Cinespace Chicago Film Studios between 2014 and 2017. He agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors, and Cullerton was charged days later.

…Adding… Another one…

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 9:35 am:

    Has Coli officially been sentenced yet? He cooperated with the feds and pleaded guilty in 2019…

    Former Chicago Teamster power-broker John Coli pleaded guilty two days ago, and has agreed to cooperate in investigations in exchange for a sentence of less than two years in prison

  2. - Paddyrollingstone - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 9:54 am:

    Donnie - No, he hasn’t. With a cooperator, the USAO will ask the judge to hold off on sentencing until the targets of the witness’ cooperation have either pled or been found guilty. This allows the cooperator to better withstand cross examination.

  3. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 10:02 am:

    The Government is violating Senator Cullerton’s rights under the 6th ammendment. Two and a half years is not a speedy trial.

    “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”

  4. - don the legend - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 10:28 am:

    LP, ==Cullerton’s federal trial was previously set for July 2020 but that date was scrapped when the pandemic halted jury trials.==

  5. - Willowglen - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 10:33 am:

    A defendant often desires a delay. Witnesses often become increasingly hard to find (or die), and time and opportunity for diminishing the weight of evidence may help. You can bet Cullerton’s attorney is not filing any speedy trial motions.

  6. - Tammy - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 10:44 am:

    == A defendant often desires a delay. ==

    True, but if memory serves me correctly, Cullerton’s attorney was pushing for a quick trial date — usually an indication that the case is weak. We’ll see.

    The interesting thing about this case is that it was assumed by many that Coli was gonna flip on other pols and trigger more indictments. That hasn’t happened. At least not yet.

  7. - Amalia - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 11:01 am:

    usually in cases the lower fish flips on someone above. Coli flipping on Tom Cullerton is not that and the case does not seem strong.

  8. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 11:41 am:

    If the trial date was previously July of 2020, 3 months after the Covid closures, what is the reason for delaying it to 10 months from now?

    Completely unfair to the voters to not know if he guilt of what he is accused of

  9. - Dan Johnson - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 12:29 pm:

    How exactly is this alleged conduct a federal offense? If everything the government is saying is true, a private organization (a labor union) decided to hire someone as an organizer who didn’t put in as much time on the clock as the contract allegedly specified? So if they had hired him as a consultant, no harm no foul?

    And this is a federal offense?

    This isn’t taxpayer money. Or even campaign money. This is a private organization that hired someone who was probably a really good hire — a labor organizer! And this is a federal case about how much time he spent on his private sector job?

    I sincerely don’t get what federal law was purportedly broken here.

  10. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 12:52 pm:

    ===How exactly is this alleged conduct a federal offense?===

    It’s a felony to lie on a union time card.

  11. - Miso - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 12:55 pm:

    The Government is violating Senator Cullerton’s rights under the 6th ammendment. Two and a half years is not a speedy trial.

    All he has to do is demand trial. Speedy trial does not start until that happens. The state cannot demand trial.

    Nice try.

  12. - Dan Johnson - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 1:11 pm:

    Thanks Rich

    Wow. It is a federal offense to lie on a time card….and a felony!

    (Probably not a federal felony to underpay a worker).

  13. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 1:15 pm:

    Do you really think a labor union hiring a sitting Illinois Senator for a no show job was “probably a really good hire”?

    It’s not like the Senator would then bend over backwards to put his “employer’s” interests above everyone else in his district or anything after he allegedly received more that a quarter of a million dollars for doing little or no work.

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