It’s been a long time coming, but public officials in Illinois are finally being called to account for their decades of egregious self-dealing. Members of the Madigan mob aren’t getting automatic passes anymore, and even small fry like former Wood River Drainage and Levee District treasurer Jamie Butkovich have been brought up on charges.
Still, the wheels of justice turn slowly, as Butkovich’s case demonstrates.
Wood River police arrested Butkovich on felony charges over a year ago, in September 2018, accusing her of running up more than $45,000 in improper debits and withdrawals on Levee District accounts, including $11,419 at Woodstock Bar, $5,652.50 at Moose Club, $2,658.91 at Argosy casino, and $2,076.82 at Home Depot.
An internal review found another $19,246.02 in misappropriations and pegged the total damage done by Butkovich at $158,109.78, half of which represents Internal Revenue Service penalties and interest.
Not as extravagant as some of the shenanigans in Springfield, but still quite a spree at taxpayer expense, and one for which she should be required to make amends. But will she be?
Justice appeared to be coming swiftly for Butkovich when Circuit Judge Richard Tognarelli set her trial for November 2018, just two months after her arrest. But, then, the trial was continued to January of this year, then to April, then two weeks longer, then to July, then to September, then to November. That didn’t work either, for whatever reason, and now Butkovich’s trial is set for February in the new year. Maybe they’ll punt again. Who knows?
While it lasted, though, it must have been nice for Butkovich to know she could hit the bar, the casino, and even the hardware store and not have to worry about making good on the charges she ran up, because the citizen-suckers who paid her salary would pick up the tabs for her. It was a fringe benefit that she made up for herself, but why not? Everybody else is doing it and getting away with it.
Until now, at least.