Editorials

Corrupt township chief about to have smile wiped from his face

Former East St. Louis Township supervisor Oliver Hamilton flashes a smile after he pleaded guilty Dec. 1 to federal wire fraud charges in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis. His sentencing hearing is Thursday.
Former East St. Louis Township supervisor Oliver Hamilton flashes a smile after he pleaded guilty Dec. 1 to federal wire fraud charges in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis. His sentencing hearing is Thursday. snagy@bnd.com

Hey, Oliver Hamilton. Plead guilty to stealing $40,000 of the $230,000 you took from the impoverished taxpayers of East St. Louis and we’ll let you go to Club Fed for a year of watching cable and gardening.

April Fools!

It appears U.S. District Chief Judge Michael J. Reagan is as hacked off as the rest of us over the deal cut by federal prosecutors with former township supervisor Hamilton. Years of predation that drove East St. Louis Township into a $3 million deficit punished by one of those pillowy, heart-shaped “Grandma’s Paddles” will do nothing to punish Hamilton or deter the next political thief-in-training.

Reagan telegraphed his punch ahead of Hamilton’s sentencing hearing slated for Thursday. In a 28-page sentencing memorandum, the judge listed 48 local cases of public corruption that landed in federal court within the past 20 years. Of those, 28 were in East St. Louis.

“There is a great risk that with the rampant public corruption in the East St. Louis area, residents will become apathetic and will view corrupt leadership as the norm, making it more difficult to detect, investigate and prosecute corruption,” Reagan wrote.

We forgive him his optimism. We’re pretty sure the public is already there.

Reagan continued: “Corruption in East St. Louis cannot continue at this rate, and a guidelines sentence in this case may not send a message of deterrence to the public and to the officials tempted to follow in Hamilton’s footsteps.”

Amen, Brother Reagan. Amen.

Time for some Old Testament justice to be laid upon the sinner.

Correction: Earlier versions of this editorial included the wrong sentencing day.

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