Powerful Chicago Democrat Tom Cullerton Indicted over No-Show Union Job

Illinois Sen. Thomas Cullerton, D-Villa Park, speaks to reporter while on the Senate floor during session Thursday, March 17, 2016, in Springfield, Il. Illinois' overdue bills are actually 16 percent higher than previously reported and could top $10 billion by end of the fiscal year. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
AP Photo/Seth Perlman

Illinois State Senator Tom Cullerton, a powerful Chicago Democrat, is facing federal embezzlement charges for taking over $200,000 a year from an Illinois union for a no-show job.

In 2013, Cullerton began receiving a $188,320 per year salary and $64,068 in health benefits supposedly for serving as a Teamsters union organizer, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The 49-year-old Cullerton, who is the brother of Democrat Senate President John Cullerton, also received cash bonuses every year since 2013, despite doing little to no work for the union.

Now, Cullerton faces a federal indictment for conspiracy to embezzle from a labor union and an employee benefits plan. He also faces an additional 39 counts of embezzlement from a labor union as well as a single count of making false statements about the health care benefits.

Federal prosecutors allege that Cullerton and former Teamsters boss John T. Coli conspired to set the lawmaker up with the fake union job and when he rarely showed up to do any work, Coli ignored Cullerton’s actions.

The indictment comes on the heels of Coli’s guilty plea for trying to shake down a Chicago-based film company for $325,000. Coli may be handed a 20-month prison sentence.

The Cullerton indictment is not a surprise as during the Coli trial federal prosecutors issued a subpoena for Cullerton’s financial records.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.


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