A federal court judge has tossed out an appeal by politician Kelvin Ellis that he shouldn’t be sent back to prison because the law governing association with other felons is too vague to be enforced.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael Reagan rejected Ellis’ argument that he should not to be subject to a parole violation due to a meeting with his childhood buddy Oliver Hamilton at a Caseyville restaurant in late April. At the time, Hamilton had been convicted of wire fraud in the credit card theft of at least $40,000 of public money meant for the poor.
Hamilton was supervisor of East St. Louis Township when he stole the taxpayer funds by fraudulently charging personal items on a township no limit credit card, including tens of thousands of dollars in building supplies, gasoline and trips to Las Vegas and hundreds more on gifts for friends and political cronies. Hamilton is serving a five-year prison sentence handed down by Reagan.
Ellis, 67, was convicted in 2005 of three corruption charges that stem from his time as an official in East St. Louis City Hall and his meetings with an undercover FBI informer about having a woman shot who he feared would finger him for crimes. The FBI pulled a sting, producing faked photos that were shown to Ellis of a woman lying on the ground at Horseshoe Lake and appearing to have been shot. Ellis received a 10-year sentence.
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But just 19 days before his supervised release or parole would have ended, he was secretly photographed by federal agents at the fast-food restaurant meeting with Hamilton. This was a violation of the rules that felons on supervised release cannot associate with other felons, prosecutors contend.
Ellis’ attorney argued that a recent decision by a federal appeals court based in Chicago that the law against association was too vague to be enforced should be applied to her client.
However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Norm Smith said Ellis should have taken up that argument when he was sentenced, not when he was caught allegedly violating the parole rules.
Reagan ruled that Ellis’ appeal is time-barred, meaning it could not be brought in court, and set Sept. 14 for “a final revocation hearing,” where Ellis could be sentenced to three years in prison or have his sentence officially ended. He is currently free on bond.