Steve Korris Jun. 20, 2013, 4:02pm

Outgoing St. Clair County Clerk Robert Delaney and incoming County Clerk Tom Holbrook both sent a federal judge character references for convicted drug dealer Ace Hart II.

U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan received letters from Delaney and Holbrook in 2010, after Hart pleaded guilty to four counts of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and methamphetamine.

He is the son of former deputy St. Clair County coroner Ace Hart, Sr.

Holbrook sent his letter on General Assembly stationery as state representative from the 113th District.

“I have known Mr. Hart and his family for over 30 years,” Holbrook wrote on April 6, 2010.

“He is a devoted father and husband to five beautiful children with one child on the way. He has demonstrated to me that he is a man who has never been in any trouble before and he is extremely remorseful for his actions. I understand the severity of the charges especially given my responsibilities as an elected official. Mr. Hart and his entire family have been solid citizens in this community for many years. I trust that you will take these comments into consideration when deciding upon the disposition of this case.”

He invited Reagan to call him with any questions.

Delaney sent his letter on county stationery.

“I have known this young man some 25 years and I can tell you Mr. Hart is a very hard working, polite, and a good family man,” Delaney wrote on April 19, 2010.

“I understand the seriousness of this offense, but I do know that Mr. Hart has great remorse for being involved in this type of criminal activity. I am sure this will bother him for the rest of his life; however I believe due to his family situation, being the father of small children, and being a long time valued employee of AT&T, I feel that he should be given any leniency that the court will allow him.”

Reagan imposed a sentence of 40 months. He composed a statement of reasons for his decision, and he sealed it.

Hart was released from prison on Jan. 7.

Delaney stepped down from office June 19 after an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission report accused him of sexual harassment, racial discrimination and bullying employees.

The investigation was prompted by the firing of deputy clerk Laura Romero on May 15. She filed suit the next day.

Delaney denies accusations made by Romero.

Holbrook, a Democrat, represented the 13th District in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1995 to 2011.

He resigned that year to accept Gov. Pat Quinn’s appointment as chairman of the Illinois Pollution Control Board (PCB), a post that pays an annual salary of more than $120,000. The position of County Clerk pays close to $100,000.

The county board will vote on Holbrook’s appointment on June 24.

Holbrook has been contacted for comment but has not returned messages left for him on Thursday morning.

Prior to his election to the General Assembly, Holbrook served on the St. Clair County Board from 1981 to 1994.

Bethany Krajelis contributed to this report.


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