Metro-East News

Feds want Kelvin Ellis back in prison for meeting with felon Oliver Hamilton

Oliver Hamilton appears at federal courthouse for sentencing

Oliver Hamilton and his wife, Belynda, arrived at the federal courthouse in East St. Louis, IL for sentencing on fraud charges related to his time at East St. Louis Township supervisor. He pled guilty to charges he used a taxpayer-paid credit card
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Oliver Hamilton and his wife, Belynda, arrived at the federal courthouse in East St. Louis, IL for sentencing on fraud charges related to his time at East St. Louis Township supervisor. He pled guilty to charges he used a taxpayer-paid credit card

Kelvin Ellis, who pleaded guilty to obstruction more than a decade ago in a case involving a scheme to murder a witness, allegedly violated rules of his supervised release by meeting with recently convicted felon Oliver Hamilton, according to court documents.

In a filing Thursday in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis, Assistant U.S. Attorney Norm Smith accused Ellis of improperly meeting at about 1 p.m. Wednesday with Hamilton at the Hardee’s restaurant in Caseyville for an “extended meeting/conversation” that included newly elected District 189 school board member LaKeisha N. Adams.

Smith’s motion seeks revocation of Ellis’ supervised release. Adams is not accused of any wrongdoing.

“Under the circumstances of Kelvin Ellis’ supervised release on three separate cases, (his) meeting with Oliver Hamilton is a flagrant, if not flaunting, disregard of the court’s orders and are violations of his conditions of supervised release in each of the three cases,” according to the court petition, which requests that Chief Judge Micheal J. Reagan order a hearing be held.

“Kelvin Ellis was certainly aware that Oliver Hamilton is a convicted felon,” Smith’s petition stated. “The prosecution and sentencing of Oliver Hamilton was well publicized. Additionally, Kelvin Ellis previously worked for the East St. Louis Township.”

The court petition included a surveillance photo showing Hamilton, the former East St. Louis Township supervisor who was sentenced April 6 by Reagan to five years in prison for defrauding the public of more than $40,000, sitting across a table from Ellis and Adams.

Kelvin Ellis was certainly aware that Oliver Hamilton is a convicted felon. The prosecution and sentencing of Oliver Hamilton was well publicized. Additionally, Kelvin Ellis previously worked for the East St. Louis Township.

Assistant U.S. State’s Attorney Norm Smith

Ellis could not be reached for comment. He worked as a consultant to the township, reporting to Hamilton, prior to Hamilton resigning his supervisor’s job in December.

Hamilton is currently free while awaiting notification from the federal Bureau of Prisons as to when and where to report to begin his sentence.

According to federal sentencing guidelines, Ellis could be sent back to prison to serve more time than he was originally sentenced to serve, as long as it does not exceed the legal limits for the crimes involving his three convictions on three separate charges.

In December 2005, Ellis was sentenced for tax evasion, tampering with a witness and obstruction of justice. Testimony from the court proceedings showed that Ellis approved a scheme carried out in a sting by law enforcement that resulted in a realistic-looking but staged photograph of a woman, who was a witness in a federal corruption case, appearing to have been shot to death at Horseshoe Lake.

In documents presented to the court at the time by former Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith, Ellis was accused of running a call girl ring out of East St. Louis City Hall, collecting more than $30,000 in rent for a church he did not own and failing to report more than $60,000 in income he received from real estate developer Phil Cohn. Cohn was sentenced to five years in prison for money laundering and mail fraud.

In the early 1990s, Ellis pleaded guilty to federal extortion charges connected to his City Hall job during the first administration of then-Mayor Carl Officer.

Hamilton pleaded guilty to defrauding the public of funds meant to help the poor by fraudulently using a no-limit American Express card backed by taxpayers.

A 2016 Belleville News-Democrat investigation revealed that Hamilton personally charged about $230,000 over four years for items like building supplies, tractor tires, gifts for his political friends, $40,000 in gasoline, thousands of dollars to wash and detail his pickup truck and money for airline tickets and hotel room for him and his wife to travel to Las Vegas. Hamilton owns a construction company.

At his sentencing, Reagan called Hamilton’s crimes, “staggering” and doubled the 30-month sentence that had been recommended by federal prosecutors.

George Pawlaczyk: 618-239-2625, @gapawlaczyk

Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570, @bhundsdorfer

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