Illinois State Sen. Tom Cullerton indicted on embezzlement charges

Illinois State Sen. Thomas E. Cullerton has been indicted on charges he allegedly got a salary and benefits from the Teamsters while doing little to no work, federal authorities said Friday.

Cullerton, 49, of Villa Park, is charged with one count of conspiracy to embezzle from a labor union and an employee benefit plans as well as 39 counts of embezzlement from a labor union, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office of the Northern District of Illinois. He also faces one count of making false statements in a health care matter.

According to the indictment, Cullerton was a member of Teamsters Local Union 734 before his election to state senator in 2012, after which he was ineligible for the union’s health and pension funds. After his election, he was hired by Teamsters Joint Council 25 as a full-time union organizer. That same month, the Joint Council entered into the Local 734, prosecutors said.

Over three years, Cullerton did little or no work as an organizer with the Joint Coucil, but still was paid the salaried position, which included benefits from the Local’s health and pension fund, prosecutors said.

From March 2013 to February 2016, Cullerton allegedly made $188,320 from his paid position in the union, and about $64,000 in health and pension contributions, prosecutors said.

Cullerton allegedly used the proceeds of the payments to pay personal expenses, such as his mortgage, utilities and groceries, according to prosecutors.

In order to appear as a full-time employee and be eligible for medical benefits, Cullerton allegedly submitted false information to medical providers, listing himself as a “route salesman,” prosecutors said. The charges are punishable by up to five years in prison.