The Illinois State Crime Commission will offer a $10,000 reward next month for information that leads to the heroin-related arrest and conviction of any elected official, the group’s executive director announced Sunday.
Jerry Elsner said the recent drug-related arrests of a St. Clair County judge and probation officer, as well as a trio of Schaumburg police officers, highlights the scope of the drug problem in Illinois and makes the reward “necessary.”
“I don’t care if every politician in the state of Illinois hates me,” Elsner said. “My commitment is to the children...If I can save the life of one child, then it’s worth it.”
Elsner said he has received commitments for more than $1 million in donations to cover the reward, which will only be offered during the month of July.
He said the commission -- a not-for-profit organization that was created in 1994 and is dedicated to law enforcement and public safety -- wanted to make sure it had more than $10,000 in case it has to pay out multiple sources of information.
If anyone has information about any elected official in Illinois who is involved in or with protecting heroin traffickers, Elsner said they should contact law enforcement, whether it’s the Federal Bureau of Investigations or local or state police.
Callers, he said, will remain anonymous and receive the reward if their information leads to the arrest and conviction of an elected official.
Elsner said the commission decided to target state officials in its reward because these are the people voters should be able to trust and that the recent arrests of a handful of individuals working in law enforcement and the judiciary has tarnished that trust.
The individuals he is referring to includes former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook, who was charged last month with possession of heroin and being an unlawful user of a controlled substance in possession of firearms.
Cook has entered a not guilty plea to both charges and has since resigned from the judiciary to enter drug treatment.
Among others, federal prosecutors last month also lodged drug charges against James Fogarty, an employee with the St. Clair County probation department.
Fogarty is accused of providing cocaine to Cook and the late Judge Joseph Christ the day before the two men went to Cook’s hunting cabin in Pike County. Christ died there in March from cocaine intoxification.
Besides Cook and Fogarty, Elsner said three Schaumburg police officers were arrested earlier this year on drug-related charges.
These officers, he said, have been accused of stealing narcotics from drug dealers and using an informant to sell the drugs.
Shortly after Cook was charged, Elsner’s group put out a statement asking Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to appoint a statewide anti-heroin task force.
Under his proposal, the task force would have broad investigative powers similar to those afforded to the “Untouchables,” a group of law enforcement agents that worked to put an end to Al Capone’s illegal activities during the Prohibition-era.
“The government is supposed to protect you and now it’s the predator,” Elsner said last month. “If the public loses confidence in the system, we’ve got a major problem.”
In a statement on the group’s website about the recently-announced $10,000 reward,” he said "The citizens of Illinois must be able to restore their confidence in their elected officials.