Convicted township leader’s sister faces loan fraud charge
June Hamilton-Dean, with trial on two felony fraud and forgery charges still pending in a St. Clair County Court, began a new job in East St. Louis as the city’s new Community Development and TIF Director last week.
At an annual salary of $73,000, Hamilton-Dean will manage the day-to-day operations of the city’s Community Development Department with an annual budget of more than $12 million, according to city records. Her first day on the job was July 16.
She previously served on the City Council and as a financial consultant to East St. Louis Township while her brother, Oliver Hamilton, was township supervisor. The pair were among seven metro-east public officials arrested in December 2016 on corruption charges.
Oliver Hamilton was sentenced to a five-year sentence, later reduced to 30 months, in federal court for wire fraud for making more than $230,000 in “questionable purchases” on a township-issued American Express card. Among the purchases were trips to Las Vegas, supplies for his business, gasoline for his personal truck, car washes, and donations and gifts to friends.
Hamilton and his sister later were investigated by the BND for diverting nearly $1 million intended to benefit a summer jobs program for disadvantaged youth. At least $200,000 came in the form of fraudulent loans.
Hamilton-Dean was charged on four felony bank fraud counts in October 2017 for allegedly claiming to First Illinois Bank that she was authorized by the East St. Louis Township Board to take out a $200,000 loan, proceeds of which were supposed to fund the youth employment program until the township received grants from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
The IDNR awarded East St. Louis Township $634,800 to the program, but only around $232,600 ever found its way there. The rest was transferred to the township’s general operating fund and used to pay for township expenses such as payroll and employer taxes, the Belleville News-Democrat investigation found.
Township, board officials said they were unaware of the loan for the full duration of the two-year program, during which funds were routinely funneled from the account.
Two counts against Hamilton-Dean were dismissed, but pretrial hearings on the forgery charges are scheduled to begin in September in St. Clair County Circuit Court.
East St. Louis City Manager Brooke Smith hired Hamilton-Dean without a vote of the City Council. Smith confirmed the hiring and salary Tuesday by email. Previous attempts to reach her by phone and in person at City Hall were unsuccessful.
Repeated messages left for Mayor Robert Eastern III since July 16 were not returned.
A BND reporter waited outside City Hall on Friday, July 19, and approached Hamilton-Dean as she walked to her car at the end of the day. She refused to comment or to confirm that she was working for the city.
Eastern also appeared to dodge the reporter Friday when a City Hall employee moved the mayor’s car from its regular parking space and picked him up at the back of the building.