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Nine charged in Metro East public corruption investigation

Hannah Westerman | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly annouces the results of Operation Watchtower, a state and federal task force

Nine people were arrested Monday in the Metro East as part of a state and federal public corruption task force operation.

Known as Operation Watchtower, the joint task force began this spring.

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly announced the arrests at a press conference at the Illinois State Police Headquarters in Collinsville.

Kelly says his office has prosecuted a large number of public integrity cases but they still present a unique challenge.

“They are difficult to do,” said Kelly. “They require some diligence. They require some patience and sifting through what is simply bad government and bad decisions versus what is actually criminal.”

The indicted include East St. Louis City Councilwoman and East St. Louis Township contractor June Hamilton Dean whose brother Oliver Hamilton, an East St. Louis supervisor, has already pled guilty to federal public corruption charges.

Kelly says the siblings were paid in part from grants for a violence reduction program called Ceasefire.

“You have these two individuals, one now having pled guilty in federal court and one now charged in state court whose phony baloney jobs have been funded by this so-called Ceasefire grant. It goes without saying that that is infuriating.”

The Accused

Those charged include various elected and appointed officials as well as public employees.

Hamilton Dean is charged with public contractor misconduct and forgery. She is accused of knowingly creating or altering a false document with the intent to defraud, in this case a letter stating the employment status of Raeshaunta Lacey.

Lacey is also charged with forgery for knowingly delivering a false document in relation to Dean’s case.

East St. Louis Township Trustee Michael Roberts is accused of using township funds for a trip to Las Vegas for himself and his wife.

East St. Louis Township Trustee Edith Moore is charged with Prevention of Voting or Candidate support.

Anthony Davis, an auxiliary officer for the City of Washington Park, is charged with Official Misconduct for knowingly providing false information to a state trooper concerning the cause of an accident between Davis’ vehicle and another vehicle.

Teana Gillespie, an Alorton police officer, is charged with possessing a handgun at a time when her firearm owner’s identification card was revoked.

Christopher Malone, an employee of the United States Postal Service, is charged with Official Misconduct and the theft of government property. He is accused of stealing up to $500 worth of property including currency.

Jo Ann Reed, the former Mayor of Alorton, is charged with giving or promising to give money to another person in order to influence their vote as well as electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place.

Michael Crockett Jr, a member of the St. Clair County Board of Review, is charged with Official Misconduct and Bribery. He is accused of taking a financial bribe in exchange for helping to reduce property taxes.

Looking Ahead

All of these charges are Class 3 or Class 4 criminal felonies. Under Illinois law, the offenses are all eligible for a sentence of probation.

Kelly says it could be time for a change in how Illinois sentences those charged in public corruption cases.

“As we discuss sentencing reform and looking at modifying who we send to prison and who we don’t,” said Kelly. “Maybe if we’re going to come off a lot of drug offenses and lower level crimes, maybe it’s a good time that we up these a little bit.

This is the second round of indictments resulting from Operation Watchtower. The first occurred in April. Kelly says there could be another round of indictments in the future.