Former Mayor Of Columbia Pleads Guilty To Lying To Federal Investigators
Editor’s note: This story was originally published by the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.
EAST ST. LOUIS — The former mayor of Columbia pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court to lying to federal investigators about referral commissions he received on city contracts.
Kevin Hutchinson, 56, resigned as mayor of the Monroe County town after his indictment by a federal grand jury.
Hutchinson will be sentenced in U.S District Judge Stephen P. McGlynn’s courtroom on June 28.
Hutchinson had been charged with one count of making a false statement to the federal Southern Illinois Public Corruption Task Force, also referred to as the Metro-East Public Corruption Task Force. That’s a felony , with a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.
The federal indictment describes Hutchinson as a licensed insurance agent who owned a closely-held Illinois corporation called BMC Associates, Inc. It states that the city government in Columbia provides health-insurance coverage for employees and also contracts for property/casualty loss insurance.
“Unbeknownst to the city council or the city manager, Hutchinson and his corporation, BMC Associates, Inc., received referral commissions from the insurance contracts that the city of Columbia placed with (two other companies),” the indictment states.
On Monday, Hutchinson pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents in connection to their investigation into whether he was receiving illegal commissions from insurance policies belonging to the city of Columbia through insurance companies he was involved with.
Hutchinson, under the Illinois Public Officer Prohibited Activities law, was prohibited from being financially interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract work or business of the municipality, the federal criminal complaint states.
Under the Illinois Government Ethics Act, Hutchinson was required “to truthfully complete an annual statement of Economics Interests and file it with the count clerk,” according to the charging document.
Hutchinson, in the guilty plea, admitted to filing a false statement of Economic Interests with the Monroe County Clerk, stating he did not have a personal financial interest, directly or indirectly in any contract, work or business of the municipality,
Federal agents from multiple agencies opened a federal criminal investigation to determine whether Hutchinson had violated federal law.
The federal stipulation of facts states: Hutchinson lied to an FBI agent and and a federal task force officer, saying his only interest in MRCT’s contract with the city of Columbia was in his official capacity as mayor.
Hutchinson’s replacement in Columbia is former Ward 3 Alderman Gene Ebersohl, who was named acting mayor. Hutchinson was finishing his fourth term as mayor.
Carolyn Smith is a reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.