James Ingram

Apparently irked by the relatively light 30-month sentence recommended by federal prosecutors, as well as an email implying political and judicial bias, Judge Michael Reagan sentenced former East St. Louis Township Supervisor Oliver Hamilton to a five-year prison sentence recently after giving him a severe upbraiding in his courtroom.

Months ago, I detailed Hamilton’s trail of corruption. Her charged about $230,000 over a period of four years to the impoverished ESL Township, billing them for lavish trips to Las Vegas and Los Angeles, political gifts for friends, building supplies (he owns a construction company), up to $40,000 in gasoline and thousands of dollars on cleaning his pickup truck.

Hamilton’s defense attorney Clyde Kuehn appealed to Reagan to consider the culture of ESL as one which had become apathetic to corruption and that Hamilton was, in so many words, simply a product of his environment. He asked that Reagan “temper the punishment with mercy.”

Reagan was having none of Hamilton’s pity-party defense. Reagan publicly read Hamilton’s email to supporters in open court, which stated that Hamilton expected to get a heavier sentence for going against the “Belleville political party” and pointed to another case in which Reagan only gave a (white) MoroTownship supervisor probation after he admitted to embezzling $700,000.

Reagan then gave Hamilton a pre-sentencing tongue-lashing: “Your sentence has nothing to do with your religion, your race or your politics…You take a dollar from a pauper, you take everything from that man. You take a billion from Jeff Bezos (Amazon founder), he still has $75 billion… I can think of  nothing worse than taking from the indigent… This community in some places looks like Dresden in World War II.”

As a result, Hamilton received twice the recommended sentence and awaits, at this writing, his reporting date for federal prison.

Isn’t it ironic that a bloodsucker of the poor, like Hamilton, would have the temerity and stupidity to attempt to call out a judge, who is in charge of his fate, and use a false equivalency as an argument to justify leniency, based upon the very political game that he has played throughout his entire adult life.

The only thing that’s unfair is that Hamilton got away with his staggering abuse of the public’s trust and resources for so long.

Then, for Hamilton’s defense attorney to seemingly imply that the culture of ESL lends itself to an acceptance and replication of Hamilton’s misbehavior is an insult to the citizens of ESL, most of whom are appalled by such corruption and criminality.

We can only hope that such sentencing would be a deterrent for any would-be political crooks, but I wouldn’t be foolish or optimistic enough to hold my breath.

I only wish that the citizens of East Boogie could weigh in on Hamilton’s sentence. I’d recommend, since Oliver seems to have a love for traveling and shiny cars, that he’d spend his 5-year sentence washing and detailing prison vehicles from coast to coast. Now that would be real justice.

Email: jtingram_1960@yahoo.com; Twitter@JamesTIngram.

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