Alorton Mayor JoAnn Reed was charged with two felonies and the village squad car she drives was searched Friday by police.
Reed was charged with two felony counts of official misconduct for “operating a Village of Alorton motor vehicle on a public roadway in the state of Illinois while operating oscillating, rotating or flashing lights.” She also was charged with a misdemeanor complaint for using emergency lights on a public roadway.
St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly issued the charges late Friday. He also authorized a search warrant for the 2016 Ford village police car she drives.
On Sept. 15, a driver called the Illinois State Police emergency line with a complaint that it appeared a civilian female driver was impersonating a police officer. A dispatcher then radioed a warning, or ISPERN (Illinois State Police Emergency Radio Network), alerting police in the area. The broadcast was picked up by citizens and then distributed on Facebook.
The unidentified driver told police he saw a black police car with blue and red lights flashing and a sign on the driver’s side door that stated “Mayor Jo Ann Reed.” The car was traveling east on Interstate 64, weaving through traffic near the Illinois 157 exit.
An investigation by the State Police Public Corruption Task Force resulted in the charges. Kelly also called for Reed, who is on bond for an earlier felony voting fraud charge, to immediately resign from office as mayor of Alorton. She did not.
Reed could not be reached for comment. Her attorney, Justin Kuehn, declined to comment Saturday.
Reed’s bail on the charge was set at $75,000. She posted bond and was released Friday night.
The BND obtained a video of Reed that was posted that was taken around 3 p.m. on Sept. 15, a couple of hours before police received the emergency call, at the Alorton Firemen’s Picnic. She can be seen welcoming guests, dancing and singing lyrics from Montell Jordan’s song “This is How We Do It.”
Alorton Village Board member Gwen McCallum, one of two members who often criticize Reed’s actions as mayor, said she had seen Reed driving the black police car with municipal plates with a magnetic door sign with Reed’s photo on it. The car was parked at Village Hall during the Firemans’ Picnic last Saturday.
McCallum said the board had not given Reed permission to drive the car.
In July, reporters found Reed behind the wheel of the same car at a Centreville gas station. Her late father’s handicapped tag hung from the rearview mirror. A state spokesman at the time said it is not illegal for Reed to display the tag.
Reed, who had previously been elected mayor, pleaded guilty in 2014 to smuggling a cell phone into the Alorton Jail where a relative was being held on a battery charge. Reed received probation and community service. After she attended a drug treatment program, her conviction was removed from her record. She ran for mayor and won again.
Reed is currently free on bail on charges of vote buying and official misconduct. She was scheduled to go to trial on those charges on Nov. 13. The official misconduct charge is related to the demotion of a police sergeant who testified in an investigation related to the vote buying felony.