A former Pontoon Beach Public Water official pleaded not guilty to a federal wire fraud charge in East St. Louis on Monday morning.
Brian Buske, who was a supervisor at the Pontoon Beach Public Water District, was formally charged Jan. 18 in the Southern District of Illinois. An arraignment was scheduled Monday at the federal courthouse in East St. Louis.
Buske, 44, appeared in court with his attorney, Justin Kuehn, in front of U.S. District Judge Stephen Williams. Kuehn declined to comment on the case.
Williams asked Buske if he received, read and understood the indictment as well as possible penalties if convicted. Standing in front of the judge, Buske replied “Yes, sir.”
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The wire fraud charge came about seven months after the FBI launched an investigation into Buske’s alleged misconduct during his time as an employee at the water district. According to the indictment, authorities believe Buske took $5,323 from a safe last spring at the water district office and used the district’s Bank of America credit card for personal expenses, including electric, insurance and cell phone bills.
Buske served as the water district manager for a little more than two years in Pontoon Beach. Court documents said he worked there from 2007 until June 2016 when the board voted unanimously to end his employment for “misappropriation of funds.”
A jury trial was scheduled for April 10 at the courthouse. U.S. District Judge David Herndon was assigned to preside over the case.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman Smith.