Metro-East News

Ellis faces a two-year prison sentence for hanging with felons

Kelvin Ellis
Kelvin Ellis MBR

Kelvin Ellis, who pleaded guilty to running an escort service out of East St. Louis City Hall and plotted the murder of a federal witness, could face prison time if prosecutors are successful in their efforts to revoke his parole for meeting with felons, including former Township Supervisor Oliver Hamilton and others.

Ellis, 67, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cliff Proud on Wednesday morning and was advised he could face up to two years in prison for consorting with convicted felons.

“This is a serious matter. The United States is in the process of seeking to revoke your supervised release,” Proud told Ellis during the hearing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Norm Smith filed the petition April 27, complete with photographs of a meeting with Hamilton and newly-elected District 189 school board member LaKeisha N. Adams at the Hardee’s restaurant in Caseyville, near Hamilton’s home.

“The meeting between Kelvin Ellis and Oliver Hamilton was the past and the present for the metro-east culture of corruption,” Smith wrote in a memorandum. “The third member of the meeting was LaKeisha N. Adams, who in the April 4th election was elected as a new member to the District 189 School Board. It is hoped that Ms. Adams was not seeking the advice of Ellis and Hamilton as mentors for her new public position.”

Smith filed a memorandum in support of the revocation of Ellis’ supervised release Tuesday. It was unsealed Wednesday afternoon.

The memorandum purported to detail Ellis’ contact with felons, including:

▪  volunteering as a minister at the Amazing Grace Church in Belleville while supervised by Jacqueline C. Young in 2014, after Ellis was released from prison. Young was convicted in 1995 of embezzling more than $100,000 from the Lessie Bates Neighborhood House in East St. Louis. Ellis worked at the Lessie Bates Neighborhood House — from 1993-99 — at the time of Young’s criminal conduct, the memorandum stated, and would have known she was a felon.

▪  working at East St. Louis Township, beginning in December 2015, where he worked with Sandra Stith and Yvette Johnson, two of his co-defendants in a vote fraud trial in 2005. He was supervised by Hamilton.

▪  eating dinner with Yvette Johnson at the Sevens Bar at the Casino Queen on June 29, 2016, at 9:20 p.m. “Kelvin Ellis is aware that Yvette Johnson is a convicted felon in that they were indicted, tried and convicted together ... for conspiracy to commit election fraud and aiding and abetting voter fraud,” the memorandum stated. A picture of the dinner meeting was included in the memo.

▪  campaigning for Bob Romanik, who was running for state representative in the fall of 2016. Romanik was convicted of conspiracy to obstruct justice and bank fraud. “Given the relative rarity of a convicted felon running for state representative, there was a lot of publicity concerning Romanik’s felony convictions, so Kelvin Ellis was certainly aware that he was yet again associating with a convicted felon.”

The memorandum also stated that Ellis was paid $5,000 from Romanik’s campaign, which was not reported to the U.S. Probation Office. Ellis still owes $7,585 toward the fine imposed in his criminal case.

Under the terms of Ellis’ supervised release, or parole, Ellis was barred from working for “any entity that receives, in whole or in part, public funds” without prior approval from U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan, who sentenced Ellis on his 2005 conviction for obstruction of justice for tampering with a witness and influencing a witness in a grand jury proceeding. Ellis worked for Hamilton as a planning director, writing grants for the East St. Louis Township.

In 2005, Ellis was on supervised release for tax evasion, tampering with a witness and obstruction of justice. Trial testimony revealed that Ellis approved the plot to murder a witness in his federal case. Federal agents staged a photograph depicting her bullet-riddled body at Horseshoe Lake. She was not injured. Ellis was accused of running a call girl ring from East St. Louis City Hall, collecting more than $30,000 in rent for a church he didn’t own and failing to disclose more than $60,000 in income he received from a real estate developer.

Fifteen years earlier, Ellis was convicted of federal extortion charges in connection with his job during the first term of then Mayor Carl Officer.

Hamilton pleaded guilty to fraud for using a no-limit American Express card paid for by taxpayers. Last year, in a series of investigative stories, the Belleville News-Democrat reported that Hamilton charged $230,000 over four years for building materials, tractor tires and gifts for his political friends. He also charged vacations to Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Hamilton met with Ellis while he was free on bond, waiting to begin his sentence on the wire fraud case. Reagan sentenced Hamilton to five years in federal prison last month. The term of his sentence was twice the term recommended by federal prosecutors.

“On April 26, 2017, Kelvin Ellis publicly associated with a convicted felon, Oliver Hamilton, shortly after Hamilton’s sentencing but prior to Hamilton having to report to the Bureau of Prisons. Both are federally convicted felons,” Smith wrote. “Both have a history of involvement in local politics and holding position in the local government in East St. Louis. Both held a position of trust and both abused their position of trust.”

Ellis will go before Reagan on June 22, when federal prosecutors will request a sentence of between six months and two years.

“The term of prison will be up to Judge Reagan,” Proud told Ellis.