McCann Trial Awaits His Hospital Discharge in Missouri

By Benjamin Cox on February 7, 2024 at 6:14am

Former State Senator and one-time gubernatorial candidate William “Sam” McCann appeared via telephone in the Central District of Illinois federal court yesterday morning.

McCann had failed to appear in person on Monday for the start of a bench trial on charges of wire fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion. McCann was indicted in February 2021 after federal investigators allege that from May 2015 to June 2020, McCann engaged in a scheme to convert more than $200,000 in contributions and donations made to his campaign committees to pay himself and make personal purchases, and that he concealed his fraud from donors, the public, the Illinois State Board of Elections and law enforcement authorities.

Capitol News Illinois reports that McCann videoconferenced into the courtroom at 9AM yesterday telling Judge Colleen Lawless that he was “hooked up to nitroglycerin and saline right now” and wasn’t sure when he’d be discharged from Missouri Baptist Hospital and be able to make it to her courtroom. McCann is representing himself in the case after firing his third court-appointed attorney this past November, further delaying the trial.

He again affirmed what he told Lawless on Tuesday morning via speakerphone through his standby attorney’s presence on Zoom: that he’d be willing to begin trial Wednesday morning so long as he was released from the hospital at a “reasonable” time. Lawless interpreted “reasonable” as 8 p.m. Tuesday evening, but said if he were released after that time, the trial could still begin on Wednesday, albeit later than its scheduled 9 a.m. start. It was unclear as of the 4 p.m. hearing whether he would be released Tuesday night.

U.S. Attorney Timothy Bass reaffirmed his position on McCann’s absence yesterday calling McCann’s hospital stay “a manufactured crisis.” Bass also read excerpts from McCann’s sealed medical records, noting doctors recorded him in “no pain or distress” and “well-nourished” upon checking into Missouri Baptist Hospital. He added that McCann “denies any depression or anxiety” and that only one test McCann underwent in the hospital came back with a “slight abnormality,” though he was careful not to reveal any personal medical information. McCann defended himself after Bass said the government was “suspicious” that McCann had engaged in a “creation of these conditions.”

Lawless was not pleased to learn that McCann had – for the three years since he was indicted –been leaving the Central District of Illinois without telling his probation officer, as he thought he was free to travel to the rest of Illinois and St. Louis County as part of his bond.

The federal court is set to convene at 9AM today to determine if the trial will proceed as plan or further delays will slow the process.