WASHINGTON PARK — The newest Washington Park trustee, Allen Ray Williams, may not be eligible to hold the office because he has three felony convictions on his criminal record.
Court records show that Williams, 42, of Washington Park, has had 52 charges against him, most of them traffic or misdemeanor offenses. Many of those were either dismissed or he received supervision.
He had felony convictions for bringing contraband into a penal institution, attempted burglary, attempted obstruction of justice. A felony burglary charge was dismissed. He served probation on two of the felonies; it's not clear what the sentence was for the obstruction charge.
He also faced misdemeanor charges for being in possession of alcohol as a minor; criminal tresspass to property; disorderly conduct; driving on a suspended license; resisting or obstructing a peace officer, and retail theft.
According to Illinois state law, "A person is not eligible for an elective municipal office if that person has been convicted in any court located in the United States of any infamous crime, bribery, perjury, or other felony."
A reporter asked St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly if someone who is convicted of a felony can be a trustee in a municipality. His answer was no. What happens if the person does not resign? Kelly said, "If a municipal official is ineligible to hold office and doesn't resign from that office, a qu warranto action is filed to remove that person."
Williams said his criminal record is in the past. "I was young," he said.
"I challenge anyone that would like to discuss my background to find something that I have done since then that was wrong. I want them to see the work I have done to beautify and clean up Washington Park. I have not asked for a dime from the city while I have been working on North 49th Street to turn it around. We want to spread beautification throughout the city," Williams said.
"A person should not be judged on his past. If you look at my record, that was 10 years ago. My past is my past. I want to move on and continue doing the positive and good things I am doing in Washington Park."
Williams was appointed Monday to a seat once occupied by Darron Suggs, who is awaiting sentencing in federal court for Medicaid fraud. Suggs' wife, Rosanda Suggs initially was picked to replace him. But, last month she tendered her letter of resignation. No explanation was given.
Williams said he believes he is fit for public service.
"Am I a criminal because of my past? There are plenty of people who've done things that were wrong. I am not a criminal, I paid my debt to society."
Williams said he wanted to sit on the board to help the citizens of Washington Park. But, if he won't be allowed to he will still be working in Washington Park to help bring it up so it will be a place where people will be happy to live.
The vote to seat Williams was unanimous.
Trustees Yulonda Clark and James Madkins said they did not know that Williams had a criminal past when they voted for him.
Clark said she believes everybody deserves a second chance. She said Williams has done a lot of volunteer work to clean up Washington Park and he appears to be a good person.
Trustee Carleen Tucker declined to comment. Mayor Ann Rodgers and Willie "Big Mack" McIntosh could not be reached for comment. Trustee Ferris Williams has been out due to health reasons.