BELLEVILLE — JoAnn Reed, the elected clerk of Alorton and a longtime employee at the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department, has been charged with four felonies connected to allegedly smuggling a cellphone and food to her niece who was being held in the village jail on a charge of assaulting a pregnant woman.
Reed, 54, was charged on Friday with two counts of official misconduct and two counts of bringing contraband into a penal institution on Feb. 3.
State's Attorney Brendan Kelly said Saturday "it is anticipated that she will turn herself in."
A resident of Alorton where she is also a candidate for mayor in the April election, Reed could not be reached for comment. Her attorney John O'Gara, of Belleville, said "we'll need to study the allegations and then we'll respond." O'Gara said it also was his belief that his client, who works in the department's criminal records section, will surrender at the sheriff's office at a time to be arranged.
Charging documents from the state's attorney's office show that bail for Reed was set in the amount of $150,000, which means she would need to post $15,000 in cash to be released.
Reed is also a community liaison representative for the sheriff's department. Sheriff Rick Watson could not be reached for comment.
"This is the 11th case of official misconduct I have charged since becoming state's attorney only two years ago, and the third case involving Alorton," Kelly said.
"The public doesn't demand perfection from officials, but they rightly expect them to at least try to do the right thing. When they don't, they must face the consequences as the evidence and the law demands or the democratic system will not work."
According to copies of police reports obtained by the BND, Reed allegedly slipped a cellphone to a female relative being kept at the Alorton Police Department jail on suspicion of felony assault against a pregnant person. The niece, Jennifer Harris, 22, has been charged with that alleged crime. Harris could not be reached for comment.
According to circuit clerk records, Harris also was charged Friday with felony possession of contraband in a penal institution.
As the Alorton village clerk, Reed, like other village officials, routinely had access to the police department and the jail area.
A report of the incident by Alorton police officer Johnny D. Boyd stated that the mother of the pregnant victim told him that she had learned Harris had gotten a cellphone in her cell at the Alorton jail "and was texting information about this arrest to family and friends."
Boyd's report stated that he and another Alorton officer went to the jail and asked Harris if she had a cellphone and were handed the device.
"I got the phone from my Auntie JoAnn when she gave me the food," Harris is alleged to have told the officers, according to Boyd's report. Persons at the jail can have food, but it must be handed out by police or jail personnel.
Upon investigation of messages sent via Facebook, according to Boyd's report, Harris also sent this: "... Jo an visited me & snuck me da phone ... Tell grandpoppa imma need help on paying a lawyer in the morning. I love ya'll. im in jail but auntie snuck me my phone don't tell no 1."
In 2011, Reed drew the ire of then Sheriff Mearl Justus when she accidentally faxed a hand-written request to fix a speeding ticket issued to the son of a deputy to the Belleville News-Democrat newsroom instead of a Belleville attorney who did part-time work for the sheriff's department. Reed said that the fax numbers for a reporter and the attorney were beside each other on her "speed dial."
The resulting story was picked up by the Associated Press and used by newspapers around the world including the nearly 2 million daily circulation The Daily Mail in London.
Efforts at the time to find out if Reed was disciplined for sending the fax, which she admitted to a BND reporter that she sent, were met with the explanation that it was a personnel matter and could not be released.
On Sept. 1, 2004, the BND published a story about Reed concerning a misdemeanor charge lodged against her in St. Clair County Court.
The story reported that Reed said she was arrested by Illinois State Police who charged her with a misdemeanor count of threatening the teenage son of then Alorton Mayor Randy McCallum with a "gun or a blunt object." At the time Reed said that when she was threatened she grabbed a flashlight and pretended it "was a gun." Reed said she was released in her own recognizance.
However, a reporter who followed the story by checking the misdemeanor case at the St. Clair County Circuit Clerk's office, could find no reference to it Saturday when checking the online criminal record for Reed. The current record under her name and birth date shows just the latest four felonies and a traffic ticket from several years ago.
Generally, criminal charges can only be removed from the circuit clerk's records as the result of a court order of expungement.
McCallum, the former village mayor, was sentenced in August to 43 months in federal prison for attempting to distribute crack cocaine, stealing $1,000 from the village, and arranging for cigarettes to be smuggled into the county jail for his son who was charged with committing a double murder, and attempting to smuggle marijuana into the jail as well. Jail officials went along with the smuggling of the cigarettes as part of a sting operation.
McCallum is currently at the Federal Medical Center in Devens, Mass., which holds low security prisoners who have medical issues. He is set to go on supervised release on Jan. 2, 2016.
In April, former Alorton Police Chief Michael Baxton was sentenced to federal prison for a year in return for his guilty plea of stealing Xbox video games from a car trunk that was supposed to be used as evidence in another case. Baxton, a former East St. Louis police chief, is at the minimum security federal lock up in Yankton, S.D. He is set to be transferred to supervised released on June 3 of this year.
In February 2011, former Alorton Police Chief Robert Cummings resigned after he pleaded guilty to filing fraudulent federal income tax returns. He received four years of probation and was ordered to pay $24,925 in back taxes.
Contact reporter George Pawlaczyk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2625.