Former Columbia Mayor Sentenced To Probation For Lying to Feds About Commissions On City Contracts
Editor’s note: This story was originally published by the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.
Former Columbia Mayor Kevin Hutchinson was sentenced Monday to two years probation, a $500 fine, and 40 hours of community service for lying to federal investigators about referral commissions he received on city contracts.
Hutchinson, 56, had been charged with one count of making a false statement to the federal Southern Illinois Public Corruption Task Force. He resigned as mayor of the Monroe County town after his indictment by a federal grand jury in February.
In March, Hutchinson pleaded guilty to the charge in the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Illinois.
The federal indictment described Hutchinson as a licensed insurance agent who owned a closely held Illinois corporation called BMC Associates, Inc. Unbeknownst to the city council or the city manager, Hutchinson and his corporation received referral commissions from certain insurance contracts the city of Columbia placed with two other companies, according to the federal indictment.
Under the Illinois Public Officer Prohibited Activities law, Hutchinson was prohibited from having a personal financial interest in any contract, work, or business of the municipality. Hutchinson failed to disclose his referral commissions on an annual ethics form filed with the county clerk in 2018.
The following year, when questioned by an FBI agent and a federal task force officer, he falsely reported he had no personal financial interest in the city’s insurance contract with one of the two companies, the indictment said.
The federal indictment gave the following background on the Hutchinson case:
- As an elected municipal official and a public officer, the mayor was prohibited under the Illinois Public Officer Prohibited Activities Act from being financially interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract, work or business of the municipality.
- The Illinois Governmental Ethics Act required him to truthfully complete an annual Statement of Economic Interests and file it with the county clerk.
- On June 28, 2018, Hutchinson allegedly filed a false Statement of Economic Interests with the Monroe County clerk, stating that he didn’t have a personal financial interest, directly or indirectly, in any contract, work or business of the municipality.
- The Southern Illinois Public Corruption Task Force opened a federal investigation to determine whether Hutchinson violated federal law after learning that he had received referral commissions from a health-insurance policy for city employees.
- The task force consisted of agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service/Criminal Investigations and a representative of the Illinois State Police.
- On or about March 20, 2019, Hutchinson “did willfully and knowingly make, and cause to be made, materially false statements and representations ... by falsely telling a Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent and a federal Task Force Officer that his only interest in MRCT’s contract with the City of Columbia was in his official capacity as the Mayor of the City of Columbia.
FBI-Springfield investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman R. Smith prosecuted the case.
Teri Maddox contributed to this story.
Garen Vartanian is an editor with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.