Cullerton Resigns, Intends to Plead Guilty to Federal Embezzlement Charges

By Benjamin Cox on February 24, 2022 at 9:04am

An Illinois State Senator is resigning amid reports he will plead guilty to federal embezzlement charges.

23rd District State Senator Tom Cullerton of Villa Park officially resigned today effective immediately. According to the Chicago Tribune, Cullerton’s lawyer revealed in court that he’s planning to plead guilty in a 2019 federal 39-count embezzlement case alleging he took a do-nothing job with the Teamsters union.

The case against Cullerton, who had remained in office and is free on bond, was originally supposed to go to trial this week, but was postponed due in part to a COVID-19-related backlog of cases. Meanwhile, both sides continued to work behind the scenes on a potential deal.

According to Cullerton’s indictment, then-Teamsters boss John Coli conspired with Cullerton in 2013 to give the newly elected senator a do-nothing job with the clout-heavy union. Over the next three years, the two ignored complaints from supervisors when Cullerton failed to even show up for work, according to the charges.

In all, Cullerton was accused of fraudulently obtaining $188,320 in salary, bonuses and cellphone and vehicle allowances from the Teamsters between 2013 and 2016, as well as $64,068 in health and pension contributions. Coli pleaded guilty to extortion charges and agreed to cooperate with federal authorities in August 2019. Cullerton’s charges came three days later.

Cullerton, a distant cousin of former Senate President John Cullerton, had been a state senator since 2012. Sentencing for Cullerton has been set for March 8th.