Though Illinois State Sen. Thomas E. Cullerton lives in suburban Villa Park, he was recently indicted by a federal jury in Chicago. The 49-year-old faces multiple charges of public corruption, including 39 counts of embezzlement from a labor union. He is also charged with conspiracy to embezzle from a labor union and employee benefit plans.
Federal prosecutors allege that Cullerton fraudulently received salary and benefits from a union, though he did little or no work for the organization.
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John R. Lausch, Jr. states in court documents that Cullerton was a member of Teamsters Local Union 734 before he was elected as a state senator in 2012. After he became a senator, he was no longer eligible for union health and pension benefits, but was hired in March of 2013 as a union organizer.
The full-time position included Local 734’s pension and health benefits. Prosecutors claim that for the following three years, Cullerton did little or no work for the union as an organizer, though he received nearly $190,000 in salary, bonuses and vehicle and phone allowances. They also claim he received a little more than $64,000 in pension and health contributions.
In addition, he’s accused of fraudulently obtaining $21,678 in reimbursed medical claims from the union by falsely claiming to be a “route salesman” for the organization.
A public official charged with corruption can see not only their career ruined by the accusations, but they also face possible incarceration if they’re convicted. It’s important for those facing these kinds of serious allegations to immediately speak to an attorney experienced in white-collar defense.