Metro-East News

Township supervisor to plead guilty to misspending public money

tvizer@bnd.com

East St. Louis Township Supervisor Oliver Hamilton is expected to plead guilty to wire fraud charges Thursday in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis.

Hamilton, 63, was charged earlier this month. He waived indictment and announced his intent to plead guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan. The hearing begins at 10 a.m. Reporters will be tweeting live from the courthouse.

A months-long investigation by the Belleville News-Democrat reported that Hamilton spent more than $230,000 on a taxpayer-supported American Express card from January 2012 to June 2016. The investigation showed that Hamilton used the credit card to pay for trips to Las Vegas and elsewhere, thousands of dollars in gasoline for his personal vehicle, $34 car washes, flowers and gifts for political allies, restaurant tabs and other purchases.

The card also was used to buy building materials, such as paint, drywall, lumber, cabinetry, power tools, tractor tires, locks, nails and bathroom fixtures. Hamilton is the owner of Hamilton Construction. Because the purchases were made with a township credit card, they were all exempt from state sales taxes.

The BND investigation found no evidence he paid any of the money back to the township.

The federal investigation into Hamilton’s spending followed the News-Democrat’s investigation.

Hamilton has been the township supervisor since 2011. He also represents East St. Louis on the St. Clair County Board. The township and city borders are contiguous. In an area where 47 percent of the residents live below the poverty line, the township’s only mission is to provide assistance to the underprivileged.

Court filing stated that Hamilton used public money for more than $40,000 in personal purchases and that he “misrepresented the use of public funds was for legitimate public purposes.”

Hamilton is represented by Belleville attorney Clyde Kuehn.

Assistant Attorney Norm Smith and U.S. Attorney Donald Boyce signed the criminal information.

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