Metro-East News

43 year-old felony could cause one township clerk to lose his job

It was a hot morning in April 1974 at the B&B Lounge on North 33rd St. Outside on the street, a woman that police later identified only as “Shirley” happened to be sitting behind the wheel of a yellow Oldsmobile.

It was 11 a.m. and Harry Hollingsworth, then 28, was inside the bar and about to get jumped by a male acquaintance and two of his lady friends. Hollingsworth pulled a pistol and chased the man out of the bar, firing as he ran. Hit in the neck, the man stumbled, but managed to climb into the Olds and was taken to a nearby hospital, where he recovered.

Now, 43 years later, a resulting felony conviction for the shooting has returned to haunt the 70-year-old Hollingsworth, who recently won re-election as clerk of East St. Louis Township — a troubled agency where the former township supervisor Oliver Hamilton was prosecuted for fraud. Hamilton reported Wednesday to the federal correctional facility in Marion where he began serving a five-year sentence.

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly sent police officers on Friday to East St. Louis to serve Hollingsworth at his home with a civil complaint of “quo warranto,” or a notice to appear in court and show the legal basis for why he should be allowed to remain as township clerk. The notice cited a revision of Illinois statutes that took effect in July that prohibits any person with a felony conviction from holding, “any office as a township officer” elected or appointed.

Kelly declined to comment.

The legal papers stated that as a felon, “Harry Hollingsworth is statutorily ineligible under the Township Code to hold any township office and currently and unlawfully holds the office of the office of East St. Louis Township clerk.” The document actually listed two felony convictions attributed to Hollingsworth: unlawful use of a weapon from the 1974 incident and a 1966 theft.

“My lawyer doesn’t want me to talk about it,” Hollingsworth said.

The legal language of the complaint stated that Hollingsworth, “... does still unlawfully hold and execute and has without any warrant, right or legal authority, the office of East St. Louis township clerk, which defendant has usurped. ...”

Long a fixture in East St. Louis Democratic politics, Hollingsworth is currently charged in St. Clair County Circuit Court with felony perjury for allegedly lying during an election proceeding in December 2015. Last year he told the BND he told the truth and wasn’t guilty. The perjury case is set for a status hearing July 5.

Hollingsworth has served on the East St. Louis Park District Board, the city Liquor Control Commission and as a Democratic precinct committeeman is retired from politics except for the township clerk job that pays $800 a month.

During an interview earlier this year, Hollingsworth said he is basically disabled from cancer and requires regular chemotherapy treatments in St. Louis.

George Pawlaczyk: 618-239-2625, @gapawlaczyk