George Pawlaczyk And Beth Hundsdorfer
Drivers heading east on Interstate 64 were startled Saturday afternoon to see a black police car with blue and red lights flashing and a sign on the driver’s side door that stated, “Mayor Jo Ann Reed,” weaving through traffic near the Illinois 157 exit.
A driver called the Illinois State Police emergency line with a complaint that maybe the female driver was impersonating a police officer. A dispatcher then radioed a warning, or ISPERN (Illinois State Police Emergency Radio Network), alerting police in the area. The broadcast was picked up by citizens and then distributed on Facebook.
The result is an investigation by the State Police Public Corruption Task Force and a request by St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly for Reed, who is on bond for an earlier felony voting fraud charge, to immediately resign from office as mayor of Alorton.
“We have asked the public corruption task force to add this to their current investigations involving this defendant. If she had any shame, she’d do the people of Alorton a favor and resign. But at this point we are preparing to take her to trial,” Kelly said.
Illinois State Police District 11 Commander Tim Tyler said, “We are turning the recording over to the state’s attorney and consulting with him on the investigation.”
Police were not able to locate the car on Saturday.
The BND has obtained video of Reed, 60, attending the Alorton Fireman’s Picnic and fire house dedication, where barbecue was served and music entertained the crowd Saturday. Reed published a video on Facebook Live that show her welcoming guests, dancing and repeatedly singing lyrics from Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It.”
Alorton Village Board member Gwen McCallum, one of two members who often criticize Reed’s actions as mayor, said Tuesday that she saw Reed on Saturday driving a black police car with municipal plates with a magnetic door sign with Reed’s photo on it and the wording “Mayor Jo Ann Reed.” The car was parked at village hall during the Firemans’ Picnic on Saturday.
On Tuesday morning, the car, without magnetic sign, was parked in the lot of the Cahokia Commonfields Water District, where Reed works a daytime job as a clerk. Asked for comment by telephone, she hung up on a reporter.
McCallum knows of no official permission for Reed to be driving a city-owned vehicle and is concerned about liability issues should the mayor get into a wreck. Other board members have said they don’t want to be contacted by BND reporters.
In July, Reed drove what appears to be the same police car that then contained her late father’s handicapped placard hanging from the window. A state spokesman said it is not illegal to display the placard but is illegal to use it if it is made out to someone else. Reed declined comment at the time.
Reed pleaded guilty in 2014 to a felony for smuggling a cellphone to her niece who was being held in the village police department jail on an assault charge. Reed received probation and community service and, after attending a drug rehabilitation program, her record was wiped clean and she again ran and won office as mayor.
Reed faces trial in county court on Nov. 13 for a felony charge of vote buying and a single count of official misconduct for allegedly demoting a police sergeant for testifying in an investigation related to the vote buying felony.
Justin Kuehn, Reed’s attorney, said on Tuesday that he couldn’t comment on what happened over the weekend because he hadn’t seen any reports about it.
“With regards to the current charges, we are set for trial and are prepared to fight these charges in court and not in the newspaper,” Kuehn said.
Anyone who witnessed the car with lights flashing on I-64 Saturday is asked to contact Illinois State Police Trooper Scott Becker at 618-346-3631.
George Pawlaczyk: 618-239-2625 @gapawlaczyk
Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570 @bhundsdorfer
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