EAST ST. LOUIS — Alorton's former street superintendent is headed for 41 months in federal prison and joins his brother, the village's former police chief, as a federal felon.
Ronnie Cummings was convicted of being a felon in possession of a weapon -- a clip of ammunition -- and of lying to federal agents. On Monday, he received the sentence from U.S. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy.
Prosecutors wanted 48 months; the defense sought 33 months.
U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton said afterward that he was "very pleased with the justice of the court and the sentence imposed."
"I hope it sends a message to other public employees that they can't violate the law and are not above the law, regardless of the community they live and work in," Wigginton said.
Defense attorney Adam Fein, of Scott Rosenblum law firm, said to sentence Cummings to 48 months would be giving him the sentence of someone who obstructed justice.
"Thirty three to 41 months is almost three years out of a human being's life. He's never really served any real time in the past. Now, he has to. This will certainly make a point to Mr. Cummings," Fein said.
Murphy told Cummings he wasn't happy about seeing him go to prison because he didn't see him as violent like some others who he's sentenced to prison.
Before Murphy pronounced his sentence, Cummings told Murphy that he accepted full responsibility for his actions. He said he want to come back to his community after he finishes his prison sentence and be a productive citizen, "and stay away from the trouble I am in now."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Weinhoeft played recordings of Cummings' conversation with the undercover police officer during a federal corruption sting in Alorton.
Cummings tried to get an undercover officer to get him a magnum and some ammunition to fill it. He wanted him to get him an extended clip for his Smith and Wesson 9VE.
The tape dated Nov. 17, 2011, had Cummings telling the undercover officer that he had a clip and wanted an extra one that he could pop right into his gun when one ran out.
"When I am working, I will just pop the other one in," Cummings said.
"He was anticipating being involved in a situation where one magnum might not be enough," Weinhoeft said.
Cummings was also caught on tape saying he would put a hole in a bag, put his hand into it and with the bag sealed around his hand, he would collect the shell casings so they would not be left and later found.
"He was not just concerned about his own safety and well being. This is not merely an ammunition case," Weinhoeft said.
Weinhoeft wanted an enhanced sentence for Cummings because while he was out on bond, he took government-owned property to a scrap yard and sold it. He got more than $300 dollars and he kept $85 for himself, Weinhoeft told Murphy.
Weinhoeft said Cummings was a previously convicted felon; he didn't turn himself in until he got ready after he knew a federal warrant had been issued for his arrest; and he didn't give the government his weapon when he was asked about it, allowing the gun to stay on the street longer than it should have,
Fein said that Cummings did not take the money from the scrap. He said there was no evidence to prove this crime against Cummings.
Fein said, "It is a gun and ammunition case. That's all it is," Fein said.
Cummings previously had a conviction for dealing cocaine.
Weinhoeft argued that Cummings "has committed a firearm offense in an area that is plagued with a great deal of crime."
Murphy told Cummings he wasn't the first official from Alorton that he's sentenced. He did take note that Cummings had a respectable job in the community. He told Cummings with the federal sentence, he lost his right to vote .
"You don't have any say-so in how you're going to be governed," he said.
"You lose your right to carry a firearm."
While he said he wouldn't speculate on why Cummings wanted a gun, Murphy pointed out that places like Alorton and East St. Louis are pretty dangerous.
"We're in one of the most violent commnities inthe Western world, " Murphy said.
Cummings thanked the judge and left the courtroom with attorney Scott Rosenblum, Fein and his family members and friends.
Cummings' brother, Robert, was formerly Alorton's police chief. He served six months of home confinement and is serving four years of probation for filing false tax returns.
The brothers were charged as part of a corruption probe in Alorton that also sent another former police chief, Michael Baxton, to federal prison for stealing video gaming consoles.
Former Mayor Randy McCallum also was convicted of corruption, including stealing $1,000 from the village and dealing drugs. His sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 20.