An East St. Louis man with ties to local politics has been charged with filing a false document with St. Clair County election officials, stating that his nephew was withdrawing from running for precinct committeeman.
St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly on Friday charged James O’Neal, 49, of East St. Louis, with forgery. O’Neal had testified under oath during a court hearing that he knew the document was fraudulent but he did it because he needed a job.
O’Neal also admitted that he knew the document he took to the circuit clerk’s office was fraudulent while being questioned by prosecutors, according to the charges.
O’Neal was taken to the St. Clair County Jail and posted $5,000 bond. He declined to comment.
O’Neal filed a withdrawal of candidacy form for his nephew, Nathaniel McCloud, with St. Clair County Clerk Tom Holbrook. McCloud was running in the March 15 Democratic primary for precinct committeeman in East St. Louis’ Precinct 20 against longtime precinct incumbent and veteran East St. Louis politician Edith Moore.
During the Jan. 22 court hearing before Circuit Judge Robert LeChien, Moore argued that McCloud filed a document withdrawing his name from the election, and that his name should be on the ballot.
McCloud, under oath, said he never filed a document withdrawing his name as a candidate and never authorized anyone to file any such document on his behalf.
Prosecutors played a video that showed O'Neal filing a document at the circuit clerk’s office on Jan. 6. O'Neal told prosecutors it was not the original document but a copy, and it was never his nephew's intent to withdraw from the race.
McCloud, a political newcomer, tied with Moore, 212-212. He won the election in a lottery pull April 8.
Asked to comment on O’Neal’s arrest and charge, he said, “At this time, I have no comment.”
The offense is a Class 3 felony.
Carolyn P. Smith: 618-239-2503