Alorton, IL – An Illinois mayor facing a felony charge for allegedly demoting a police sergeant who testified against her has been using a village-owned patrol vehicle to go about her daily business.
“It’s a perk of a mayor,” Alorton Mayor Jo Ann Reed told KTVI in February, after a reporter asked her why an impoverished village should provide her with a vehicle.
Reed, 60, was recently seen in the patrol vehicle parked at a gas station in a nearby township, according to the Belleville News-Democrat.
When reporters asked for a comment, she rolled up the window.
The vehicle, which was equipped with lights and sirens, also had a handicapped placard hanging from the rearview mirror.
According to the Belleville News-Democrat, the state of Illinois never issued Reed a handicapped placard, but it did issue one to her father, Albert Reed, who passed away in March.
His placard expired on July 1, Secretary of State spokesman Dave Drucker told the paper.
Although it is not illegal for someone to display a placard issued to someone else, it is illegal to use the placard to park in a handicapped parking area if the person it was issued to is not in the vehicle, Drucker said.
In 2013, the mayor was also working as a records clerk for the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department when she pleaded guilty to a felony offense for smuggling a cell phone into a jail facility for her niece, who had been charged with assault, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.
“It is an unfortunate situation for me,” she told the paper at the time. “I have been told by numerous officers that bringing money, cellphones and cigarettes into the jail is a common practice…I am a good person, and the people who really know me will tell anybody that.”
She subsequently resigned from her mayoral position, and was fired from the sheriff’s department.
As a condition of her plea agreement, Reed successfully completed chemical dependency treatment, which allowed the felony conviction to be erased from her record.
Without a felony conviction on her criminal history, Reed was able to run for mayor again, which she did.
But in December of 2016, she and seven other Illinois public officials were arrested as the result of Operation Watchtower, a joint federal and state investigation, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.
Reed was charged with knowingly giving or promising to give money to another person to vote or to influence that person to vote for or against any candidate, and electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place.
She was re-elected as mayor in April of 2017.
In July of the same year, village trustees voted to give Reed sole authority for hiring and firing village employees.
“I think everyone has enough trust in me that I can make the decisions,” Reed told the Belleville News-Democrat at the time.
According to a criminal complaint, by December of 2017, Reed was charged for demoting Alorton Police Sergeant Leon Hughes “in retaliation for his testimony in a proceeding where [Hughes] had reasonable cause to believe that the information in this testimony disclosed a violation of state or federal law,” the Belleville News-Democrat reported.
The complaint alleged that Reed had “performed an act which she knew was forbidden by law…in that she omitted the offense of official misconduct” by violating the Illinois Whistle Blower Act, according to the paper.
Reed has pleaded not guilty to all three of the felony counts pending against her.
In February, Sgt. Hughes sued the village, Alorton Police Chief David Clark, and Reed for “shunning him,” the Belleville News-Democrat reported.
Reed denied the sergeant’s allegations in a March court filing.