Illinois State Sen. Thomas Cullerton Resigns From Office Amid Plans To Plead Guilty To Embezzlement Charges

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Mary Rooke Staff Writer
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Democratic Illinois State Sen. Thomas Cullerton resigned from office Wednesday as his lawyer tells a federal judge he plans to plead guilty to a 2019 indictment accusing him of almost 40 counts of embezzlement from a labor union.

Cullerton’s defense attorney says he plans to plead guilty to charges of accepting $274,066 to be involved in a ghost-payrolling scheme with former Teamsters boss John Coli, according to CBS 2.

Cullerton was accused of continuing his membership with  Teamsters Local Union 734, which included salary and benefits, despite losing that eligibility after leaving his employment to become an Illinois state senator, according to the indictment.

Federal prosecutors said Cullerton knowingly conspired to “embezzle, steal, and unlawfully and willfully abstract and convert to his own use, the money, funds, property, and other assets of a labor organization, namely, Teamsters Joint Council 25,” according to the indictment.

Cullerton also allegedly used his do-nothing position with the Teamsters Joint Council 25 to leverage employee benefits from the Teamsters Local Union 734 Health and Welfare Fund and the union’s pension fund, the indictment stated. (RELATED: ‘You Can’t Stay Home All Day In Your Pajamas’: NYC Mayor Eric Adams Calls Out Remote Work)

Teamsters Joint Council 25 allegedly paid Cullerton around $188,320 in salary, allowances and bonuses, and other benefits like cellphone and car packages, according to the indictment.

Federal prosecutors also accused Cullerton of doing little to no work for the union but still receiving “approximately $64, 068 in health and welfare plan and pension plan contributions from Teamsters Joint Council 25 and its members; and approximately $21,678 in reimbursed medical claims from Teamsters Local Union 734’s Health and Welfare Fund.”

Cullerton was indicted on one count of conspiracy to embezzle from a labor union, 39 counts of embezzlement from a labor union, and one count of making false statements,” CBS reported.

Shortly after Cullerton resigned from his senate seat, Democratic Illinois Senate President Don Harmon released a statement acknowledging Cullerton’s “nearly decade” in office, according to CBS.

“Tom Cullerton served his constituents in the 23rd Senate District for nearly a decade. I look forward to welcoming and working with a new senator from the district,” said Harmon, the outlet reported. “We’ve got a lot of work to do for the people of Illinois.”