(KSDK) -- Four people face federal charges stemming from a corruption investigation in East St. Louis. Among them, East St. Louis Police Chief Ronald Matthews.
United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced Friday three indictments recently returned by the federal grand jury sitting in East St. Louis.
The first, a six count indictment, names Matthews, 55, of East St. Louis, Ayoub S. Qattoum, also known as "Dave," 40, of Belleville, and Janerra Carson-Slaughter, 28, of East St. Louis.
Matthews, the Chief of the East St. Louis Police Department, Qattoum, a former Auxiliary Police Officer with the East St. Louis Police Department, and Carson-Slaughter, the secretary to Matthews are charged with Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice and Obstruction of Justice.
In addition, Qattoum is charged with two counts of Unlawful Possession of a Firearm. Matthews is also charged with Perjury Before the Grand Jury.
The indictment alleges that Qattoum is a felon who illegally possessed a firearm, that all three defendants sought to obstruct an investigation into whether Qattoum illegally possessed that firearm and that Qattoum and Matthews lied to law enforcement and the grand jury, respectively, in the course of the federal investigation.
Federal prosecutors say Chief Matthews revmoved all the paperwork about Qattoum's arrest, and even took possession of the gun that was seized from Qattoum. Qattoum reportedly offered $1,500 to Matthew's secretary, Janerra Carson-Slaughter, if she could get the gun returned to Qattoum.
The second unsealed indictment charges Kelvin Ellis, 55, of East St. Louis, Illinois, with four counts of Obstruction of Justice. Ellis is the Director of Regulatory Affairs for the East St. Louis City government. The indictment alleges that Ellis sought to have a federal witness discredited and later sought to have the witness killed.
That witness allegedly had information about voter fraud in East St. Louis. The indictment claims Ellis approached another person, and said the information could impact their lives and careers. Ellis allegedly recommended planting cocaine on the witness, and then prosecuting that person. In later conversations, Ellis suggested that person should be killed. With the help of federal prosecutors, photos appearing to be the dead body of the witness were shown to Ellis.
A third unsealed indictment charges Ellis with three counts of Attempting to Evade and Defeat the Assessment of Income Tax. The first count alleges the filing of a false tax return and the next two counts each allege the failure to file a tax return.
Matthews, Qattoum, Carson-Slaughter, and Ellis made their initial appearance in United States District Court Friday afternoon.
"Public office is a public trust," said Ronald J. Tenpas, United States Attorney. "The citizens of East St. Louis are entitled to public officials who respect and uphold the rule of law. Where officials fail in this duty or where they seek to threaten or frighten those who tell of their failures, we will prosecute vigorously, to the full extent the law allows."
According to Weysan Dun, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Springfield Division, "The investigation of public corruption allegations is a top priority of the FBI. Community members are entitled to have faith in their public servants. The public should know that the FBI is committed to aggressively investigating allegations of public corruption at all levels of governmental service.”
IRS Criminal Investigation Division, Chicago Field Office, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Jose A. Gonzalez stated that "today's enforcement actions and indictments send a strong message that public corruption will not be tolerated and that no one is above the law. The IRS, Criminal Investigation Division is seeking to protect the faith that the American people place in their government and in the tax system."
B. Bernard Ferguson, Inspector in Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, St. Louis, stated, "The Postal Inspection Service has a long and proud tradition of protecting citizens from fraud and public corruption. The Postal Inspection Service is proud to be a member of the Metro East Public Corruption Task Force, and to contribute to this initial strike at corrupt elements of East St. Louis government. The Postal Inspection Service is dedicated to helping the citizens of East St. Louis obtain a government free from public corruption."
Evidence in support of the indictments was obtained in an investigation by the Metro East Public Corruption Task Force. Law enforcement agencies participating in the investigation include the FBI, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the IRS, Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Illinois State Police. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Hal Goldsmith.