Illinois state senator indicted on embezzlement charges |

Illinois state senator indicted on embezzlement charges

Associated Press
Illinois Sen. Thomas Cullerton, D-Villa Park, speaks to lawmakers Dec. 7, 2015 while on the Senate floor during session at the Illinois State Capitol, in Springfield, Ill. Cullerton has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he took benefits and salary from the Teamsters while doing little or no work.

CHICAGO — An Illinois state senator has been indicted on federal charges that he took more than $250,000 in salary and benefits over a three-year period from the Teamsters while doing little or no work, prosecutors announced Friday.

In a news release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago said Thomas E. Cullerton of Villa Park is charged with 39 counts of embezzlement from a labor union, one count of conspiracy to embezzle from a labor union and employee benefit plans and one count of making false statements in a health care matter.

According to the release, the 49-year-old Cullerton, a member of the Teamsters before he took office, was hired as a “purported union organizer” for Teamsters Joint Council 25 in March 2013. Prosecutors said that over the next three years he was paid nearly $190,000 in salary, bonuses, vehicle and cellphone allowances and another $64,000 in health and pension contributions despite the fact that he “did little or no work as a union organizer.” According to the release, when the Joint Council did ask him to perform his job duties, “Cullerton routinely ignored them.”

Cullerton also was reimbursed for almost $22,000 in medical claims from a union local’s Health and Welfare Fund after falsely providing information that he was a “route salesman,” according to the indictment, a claim that concealed the fact that he wasn’t eligible to participate in the fund.

The indictment of Cullerton, a cousin of Senate President John Cullerton, comes just days after former Teamsters Joint Council 25 president John T. Coli Sr. pleaded guilty to shaking down a Chicago film studio and agreed to cooperate with investigators.

And even before Coli’s plea agreement was announced it became clear that federal investigators were investigating the ties between the two men when it was reported earlier this year that they had subpoenaed records related to Cullerton in their probe of the powerful former union leader.

Cullerton did not return calls for comment made to his offices in Villa Park and Springfield.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says an arraignment in federal court has not yet been scheduled.

Categories: News | World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.