CASEYVILLE — The FBI received arrest reports and financial documents collected by members of the Caseyville Police Department that allege wrongdoing by their boss, longtime Police Chief J.D. Roth.
The documents include a notarized statement from a current officer and a local auto dealer, a signed statement from a former police dispatcher, and copies of village checks and receipts.
Copies of the documents were obtained by the Belleville News-Democrat.
Allegations by Caseyville police officers against the 55-year-old chief include claims he ordered a village cop not to charge Roth's 28-year-old girlfriend with felony drunken driving, improperly handling department money, and acquiring a pickup truck seized in a drug case and keeping it for personal use.
Last April, police officers within the department released an unsigned no-confidence statement against Roth, accusing him publicly of poor leadership and misconduct. Two months later, they presented the documents now in the possession of the FBI to village officials.
Caseyville Mayor George Chance said a former village attorney gave the documents to the Illinois State Police. ISP Capt. Jim Morrisey said last week he received the documents in June and turned them over to the FBI.
The FBI typically does not comment on whether it is investigating a case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Porter said Thursday he could neither confirm nor deny that the FBI is investigating Roth.
At the time, Chance said he would not respond to any allegations against Roth unless the officers brought him proof. Last week, Chance defended Roth and kicked two reporters out of his office when they persisted in questioning him about the allegations.
When reached, Roth said he could not comment on the advice of his attorney, Carmen S. Durso, of Mascoutah.
"To the best of my knowledge, he's a good cop," said Durso, who declined further comment.
The documents obtained by the News-Democrat allege that:
* Roth drove a 2003 Dodge Dakota Ram 1500 pickup seized by police in 2004. According to the documents, Roth put 65,000 miles on the odometer for personal and police use. He also charged the village more than $6,000 in maintenance for the vehicle, including parts and new tires.
According to state law, property seized in drug cases is supposed to be sold or used for law enforcement purposes. The officers complained that Roth also claimed the vehicle for personal use.
In 2010, under pressure from police officers who wanted the truck auctioned off, the Village Board instead told Roth to get bids from local car dealers and voted to allow him unlimited use of a 2010 police car. Roth went to four car dealerships to obtain estimates of what they would pay for the truck.
In a notarized statement given on April 12, 2012, at the request of several Caseyville cops, Jack Adams, owner of Crossroads Motors, said Roth came to him, "... seeking a bid on a 2003 Dodge Ram pickup for around $7,000 and I felt it was worth more than that at the time."
According to Adams' statement: "He (Roth) told me that he would go see Brad Reno, a friend of his and a car dealer, to get a bid from him. I felt pretty uncomfortable with the situation." Reno, at the time, was working at a dealership that was one of four that made bids of about $7,300. One of the bids was made sight unseen, according to the documents. Reno could not be reached for comment.
The winning dealership sent the village a check for $7,500 in June 2010, according to Illinois Secretary of State records. Less than a month later, Roth purchased the truck from the dealership. The sale price from that transaction could not be determined.
State law prohibits individual public officials or employees from buying or benefiting from seized property.
* On June 21, 2009, Kristen M. Biggins, 28, was stopped by Caseyville Officer Chris Singleton. A police report states Singleton observed Biggins' car on Illinois 157 weaving and driving on the grassy shoulder. Biggins smelled of alcohol and fell down when ordered to get out of the vehicle, according to the report.
In a notarized statement Singleton signed April 12, 2012, Singleton stated that Roth called him at the police station and told him not to charge Biggins with felony DUI, but rather give her a traffic ticket for driving on a revoked license.
"It was known that Biggins and Chief Roth had been in a relationship together," Singleton said in his statement. "I found this to be rather inappropriate being Biggins has been involved in numerous incidents in Caseyville and he influenced my performance and duty as a police officer with his authority as police chief."
That ticket was dismissed Jan. 4, 2010, after Singleton failed to appear, according to court documents. Singleton did not return a call for a comment.
State driving records show that Biggins' license later was revoked for DUI and remains revoked. She pleaded guilty in September to driving while revoked based on an April 19, 2012, arrest in Caseyville. She was fined $500 and sentenced to community service.
Earlier this month, on Jan. 13, Biggins was charged with felony drug possession and remains in the St. Clair County Jail.
* A 47-year-old Hockley, Texas, man was charged by Caseyville police with DUI on June 26, 2006. The driver posted three $100 bills as bond and was released. Officers stapled a circuit court receipt, No. 513121, to the bills and the DUI citation and placed them in a lock box for transfer to the circuit court in Belleville.
But according to a statement signed on April 18, 2012, by former Caseyville police dispatcher Peggy Jo Lance, Roth gave her $300 and told her to mail a check to the driver.
"I did not know exactly what this transaction was for but did recall the name in relation to a recent DUI case. This seemed to be out of the ordinary for handling a case of this nature," according to Lance's statement.
In an interview last week, Lance said she was suspicious of the transaction and made copies of the $100 bills, receipt and DUI citation. She said she signed the statement at the request of Caseyville officers because "it's the truth."
St. Clair County Circuit Clerk Kahala Dixon Clay said bail money with receipt No. 513121 "was never returned to this office." County criminal records do not show a case involving the Texas driver, who could not be reached for comment.
* Copies of invoices and checks paid to Roth for "gun parts" ordered through Roth's Fairview Heights home-based business Special Order Firearms are alleged to actually be custom items unrelated to police department weaponry. No state records for the business could be located. The Fairview Heights city clerk said the business was not licensed in the city.
* A total of $2,300 was seized during a 2007 federal Drug Enforcement Administration investigation and entered into the police department evidence log. Next to the entry about the money was the notation "Stolen." The officers alleged that the missing money was not properly investigated.
Addressing the matter
Morrisey, the Illinois State Police captain, said last week the reason he turned the case over to the FBI is because the ISP's Public Integrity Unit had been disbanded and the agency did not have the staff to investigate the allegations.
"We don't have the resources to follow up on all cases of local corruption that we receive," Morrisey said.
Morrisey said St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly was aware of the allegations.
Kelly said he could not confirm nor deny any investigation. "However, it's a matter of public record that my office has criminally charged 12 law enforcement personnel in the past 18 months. So, my office and the U.S. attorney together will continue to pursue threats to public integrity," he said.
The officers also took the allegations to Rob Scott, a Fraternal Order of Police labor attorney based in Springfield. Scott declined to discuss the matter.
"I have no interest in getting into an adversarial relationship with the village of Caseyville," Scott said. "We turned the information over to an agency more suited to handle it." Scott would not identify the agency.
Scott said he advised the mayor and village trustees of the allegations but they refused to discuss them.
"I will just say this, the village has knowledge of this," he said.
Accounting of fees
In 2004, the Village Board passed an ordinance that allowed the police department to collect a $10 cash fee from every person posting bond on a traffic or criminal charge. The money was kept at the police department and could be used by Roth or other officers without accounting for how it was spent.
Some of the documents supplied by the Caseyville officers stated they had no idea how the money was used.
"They put it in the cash register as petty cash. ... Nothing about it was ever sent to City Hall," said Leslie McReynolds, an accounts clerk for the village.
Village Clerk Leonard Black, who is opposing Chance for mayor in the April 9 election, searched for hours but could not locate a village account specifically set up for the bond fees, or any receipts that itemized how the money was spent.
"This was what was improper, the problem they had with it," Black said. "That's why they changed it."
Beginning in 2010, the village ordered that the bond fee money be lumped in with "tow release and DUI money. I deposit all of that into the general fund," McReynolds said. However, there are still no receipts being turned over to show how much bond money is collected, she said.
Standing by his chief
During an interview, two News-Democrat reporters showed Chance a stack of documents provided by the officers concerning Roth, but he declined to examine them.
"If an investigation comes back with something," he would listen, Chance said. "If he's a dirty police officer, he should be fired. The village and myself will fire him."
Chance confirmed that members of the village board, at the urging of several of the department's 10 officers, interviewed them individually with a village attorney present. But Chance said he couldn't remember what they alleged.
"I just thought it was police officer against police officer," Chance said. "They just want his job. ... They're jealous. ... They all said the same thing."
Sometime last May or June, Chance said he asked the late St. Clair County Sheriff Mearl Justus for advice on what to do with the officers' allegations.
"I went to my good friend Mearl Justus who told me we should turn it over to the State Police. And that's what we did."
When asked about the specifics of an allegation that Roth ordered that a woman not to be charged with felony drunken driving, Chance said, "tickets get taken care of everywhere."
When the reporters persisted in the questioning, he ordered them to "get out of my office. ... J.D. is a friend of mine. I admit it. You can print that."