— A former Washington Park mayoral assistant will not be going back to prison for violating her parole.
Linda Connor will, however, spend 24 hours in the St. Clair County Jail and perform 200 hours of community service.
After serving a three-year prison term for stealing $300,000 in village funds, Connor has been free on federal supervised released. One of the stipulations of her parole is that she could not open any new credit card accounts without approval.
Connor, 60, who was released from prison May 25, 2012, allegedly ignored the requirement, and federal agents found out about new credit lines she opened. Federal prosecutors recently asked a judge to rule that she violated parole and should go back behind bars.
Connor, of Belleville, was sentenced Friday by U.S. Magistrate David R. Herndon to serve 24 hours in the St. Clair County jail and perform 200 hours of community service. Herndon made his ruling after hearing arguments from Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman Smith and federal Public Defender Dan Cronin.
Herndon said he initially thought, “I can’t do this. This woman needs to return to prison.”
Smith argued that sending Connor back to the federal prison was not going to change her.
“Three years in federal prison did not turn her around,” he told Herndon. Smith said he thought about it and felt a 24-hour stint in the county jail may shock her into reality.
“I tried to come up with something that would bring about change,” Smith said.
As part of their agreed-upon sentencing recommendation, Smith and Cronin asked Herndon to sentence her to serve the 200 hours of community service with Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center’s literacy program and Mind’s Eye reading program at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.
Cronin said, “I agree with the government — even the briefest time in St. Clair County Jail will be shocking to Miss Connor.”
Earlier, Connor pleaded no-contest and admitted the government had enough evidence to prove she violated the terms of her agreement.
One of the stipulations on her supervised release was that she not open additional lines of credit. But, court documentation shows Connor opened up new lines of credit several times in the past two years. Smith showed Herndon a picture of Connor’s large home in Belleville. He said Connor was opening the new lines of credit to pay for her home, which she could not afford.
“I don’t understand how you get money from institutions like you do. At some point in time, somebody’s got to find out it’s deception in the things you’re saying and leaving out. There’s a huge amount of deception. Somewhere along the line, you’ve got to sit down and say there has to be a different way for me to operate on,” Herndon told Connor.
He added, “You’re a person who has complete financial instability. But, you’re willing to go to any number of sources to have a cash flow. You’re stealing money. That’s all you’re doing.”
The federal sentencing guidelines for violating the supervised release called for 4-10 months in prison.
Connor declined comment as she was preparing to leave the courtroom.
Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 618-239-2503.