Former Edwardsville Police Chief James S. Bedell, 58, has pleaded guilty to charges of theft and embezzlement from the city, according to an announcement from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois.
As part of the plea, Bedell admitted that from July 2009 through September 2012, he unlawfully removed cash and money orders from a lockbox in the police department that contained vehicle impound fees.
The City of Edwardsville charges a $300 fee for vehicles towed as a result of certain enumerated violations. The $300 administrative fee must be paid by cash or money order and the paid administrative fee is revenue to the City which must be properly accounted for.
Bedell admitted as part of the plea that he converted some of the funds to his personal use, generally to support a gambling habit.
The press release states that the federal government believes the total loss is approximately $138,000. Bedell is contesting this calculation of the loss amount.
Bedell, of Edwardsville, pleaded guilty to an information charging four counts - offenses that each carry a statutory maximum sentence of up to ten years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and mandatory restitution. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 2.
“I am disgusted and saddened when called upon to prosecute someone who had sworn to uphold the law," said U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton in a statement.
"By far and away, most police officers are above reproach. They are the constant guardians of our very freedom. Unfortunately, individuals sometimes succumb to their greed, stealing from those they have vowed to protect and serve. In instances like that, I will not hesitate to bring full and thorough prosecutions.”
Bedell was employed as police chief from approximately 2007 through Oct. 5, 2012.
The charges result from an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Illinois State Police, with the assistance of the City of Edwardsville.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman R. Smith.