CHICAGO (WLS) — Illinois State Senator Tom Cullerton has been indicted on federal embezzlement charges for allegedly defrauding the Teamsters Union, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois announced Friday.
Cullerton, D-Villa Park, is accused of collecting more than $274,000 in salary and benefits, but doing little or no work for the union, according to the grand jury indictment handed up Friday. Cullerton, a veteran, took the union job several months after he was elected in 2012.
The 49-year-old is facing 39 counts of embezzlement, one count of conspiracy to embezzle from a labor union and a single count of making a false statement about a health care matter.
Federal prosecutors allege that Cullerton used the proceeds from the alleged scheme to pay personal expenses, including his mortgage, utilities and groceries.
“All I can say is that, of course, I’m very disappointed, I am disappointed in any public official that isn’t living up to the obligation that they have to the voters that sent them there, and to the people that they represent,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
The state senator was one of the most vocal lawmakers during the Quincy Veterans’ home legionnaire’s crisis.
Federal officials allege that for three years, starting in the spring of 2013, Cullerton conspired with Individual A, identified as the president of Teamsters Joint Council 25, to be a union organizer. But the indictment alleges Cullerton, who previously had worked for Teamsters Local 734, did virtually no work, and ignored repeated requests by union representatives to do his job.
Prosecutors said Cullerton was a member of the Teamsters Union Local 734 prior to his election in 2012 and was no longer eligible to participate in the union’s health and pension funds. Cullerton was hired to serve as a union organizer by the Teamsters Joint Council in March of 2013 for a full-time salaried position, which included benefits from Local 734’s health and pension funds.