There's an amazing transformation from the scruffy, snarling criminal our law enforcement tosses into a jail cell and the GQ cover boy who shows up to face the judge. Two recent stories based on federal search warrants showed us that suspects, such as Mike Cook and Randy McCallum, aren't the only ones who get dressed up for court.
Sometimes it is the facts of the case that get a make-over.
FBI affidavits to support their search warrant requests lay bare the ugly, ruthless criminal actions behind the cases. These details rarely make it to court, for the same "fair trial" reasons you see the suspect looking his best instead of his worst.
Cook's ugly truths are apparently going to have a role in his sentencing Feb. 26. Too bad former Alorton mayor Randy "Rambo" McCallum is already serving his 43 months: The details show he deserved so much more.
He was dealing drugs right out of his home and in the open. He used village police to rob rival drug dealers of cash and drugs. He took kickbacks and bribes to hand out fake economic development grants, approve phony overtime or give out village jobs. He wished for a compact gun with which he could walk up and shoot people right in the nose.
How much more vile and predatory can an individual become?
Yes, McCallum was so bold that he was eventually caught -- after years. But you have to wonder whether he was really "Rambo," the one-man menace? Did his arrest, or those of the other Alorton thugs, really end anything?
There's a delicate balance that trades power for the enrichment of a slim line of political elite in St. Clair County. That balance is paid for by those below the line who spend generations living with poverty, lawlessness and mendacity.
Ask who gains from this balance, and that points to who spawns the Rambos.