If it's true that American voters get the government they deserve, then the roughly two thousand residents of Alorton in St. Clair County must be truly deplorable. Or, they're extremely tolerant and forgiving.
Three of their last four mayors have been convicted of crimes and removed from office.
One of those three felons got herself elected again this past April in spite of her previous ouster. The way things look now, she could have even more felonies on her record by the time the next election comes along.
Mayor Jo Ann Reed pled guilty four years ago to a felony charge of smuggling a cellphone to her inmate niece inside the Alorton jail. She was removed from office but regained her position in this spring's election, despite being indicted last December on a felony charge of vote-buying (with a potential sentence of one to three years) and a misdemeanor charge of electioneering too close to a polling place.
Trial on those charges, which resulted from a joint state and federal corruption investigation, was scheduled to begin this month, but was delayed as a result of yet another indictment.
When state police charged her with felony misconduct last week, Reed lost the trial date for the prior charge and possibly her lawyers, as well.
“Within the last 72 hours a potential conflict of interest has arisen for defense counsel relating to his representation of Jo Ann Reed and the village of Alorton in two cases,” St. Clair County Associate Judge Randall Kelley explained. “Based upon this, the defense attorney may be forced to withdraw.”
The latest charge, that Reed demoted a police sergeant in retaliation for his testimony against her in the vote-buying case, is scheduled for a status hearing in January. Reed has pled not guilty to this Class 3 felony, which carries a possible sentence of two to five years.
If convicted on both the vote-buying and the retaliation charges, Reed faces up to eight years in prison: plenty of time to plan her next race for mayor.