Former state Sen. Thomas Cullerton pleads guilty to embezzlement

(The Center Square) – A former Democratic Illinois state senator pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal embezzlement charge and admitted fraudulently receiving salary and benefits from a labor union for which he did little or no work.

Thomas Cullerton of Villa Park, who resigned from the legislature two weeks ago, admitted he improperly took more than $240,000 from the Teamsters labor union.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Illinois, the 52-year-old was hired in 2013 by Teamsters Joint Council 25 as a purported union organizer and remained on the payroll until February 2016. In addition to receiving a salary and monthly car and telephone allowances, the union also funded Cullerton’s participation in Teamsters Local Union 734’s health and pension funds, which enabled him to receive health benefits.

Prosecutors allege that from 2013 to 2016, Cullerton collected $188,320 in salary, bonuses and allowances from the Teamsters, $64,068 in health and pension contributions and $21,678 in reimbursed medical bills during that time.

The embezzlement charge is punishable by up to five years in prison. A prosecutor told U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman during Tuesday’s hearing that Cullerton could face more than a year behind bars. Cullerton has also agreed to pay $248,828 in restitution.

Sentencing has been set for June 21.

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