Caseyville, IL – An Illinois mayor who gave herself authority to use a village-owned patrol vehicle to go about her daily business is under investigation for accusations that she impersonated a police officer.
The incident occurred on the afternoon of Sep. 15, when a driver on Interstate 63 eastbound spotted a vehicle weaving in and out of traffic with blue and red lights activated, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.
A sign reading, “Mayor Jo Ann Reed” was plastered across the side of the vehicle, the other driver told the Illinois State Police emergency line dispatcher.
“A black four-door passenger car with a spotlight displayed on the side,” the dispatcher alerted over the police radio. “Mayor Jo Ann Reed displayed on the side.”
Police did not locate the vehicle on Saturday.
The vehicle description matched that of a village-owned patrol car driven by 60-year-old Alorton Mayor Jo Ann Reed.
Reed has been accused of using the patrol car – which is also equipped with a siren – for personal outings in nearby communities, and faced backlash when she was spotted displaying a handicapped placard that did not belong to her from the vehicle’s mirror back in July.
“It’s a perk of a mayor,” Alorton Mayor Jo Ann Reed told KTVI in February, after a reporter asked her why an impoverished village should provide her with a vehicle.
“We did not approve that,” Alorton village Trustee Gwen McCallum told the Belleville News-Democrat, regarding Reed’s self-granted authority to utilize the patrol vehicle.
On Saturday, Reed was seen singing Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” as she danced and greeted attendees at the Alorton Fireman’s Picnic, and had the patrol vehicle parked at village hall during the festivities, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.
Alorton Trustee Elesia Golliday-Brown told KMOV that the events also included a parade, and that Reed had activated the patrol vehicle’s lights as she traveled the parade route.
“Her car has lights,” Golliday-Brown said. “She was in the parade, right in front of me. She was behind the very last fire truck.”
Reed mistakenly left the lights on after the parade, and police were not investigating the incident, Golliday-Brown said.
But according to St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly, the matter has been turned over to the Illinois State Police Public Corruption Task Force.
Reed was out on bond for a felony voting fraud offense when the most recent incident took place.
“We have asked the public corruption task force to add this to their current investigations involving this defendant,” Kelly told the Belleview News-Democrat. “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.”
In 2013, the mayor was also working as a records clerk for the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department when she pleaded guilty to a felony offense for smuggling a cell phone into a jail facility for her niece, who had been charged with assault, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.
“It is an unfortunate situation for me,” she told the paper at the time. “I have been told by numerous officers that bringing money, cellphones and cigarettes into the jail is a common practice…I am a good person, and the people who really know me will tell anybody that.”
She subsequently resigned from her mayoral position, and was fired from the sheriff’s department.
As a condition of her plea agreement, Reed successfully completed chemical dependency treatment, which allowed the felony conviction to be erased from her record.
Without a felony conviction on her criminal history, Reed was able to run for mayor again, which she did.
But in December of 2016, she and seven other Illinois public officials were arrested as the result of Operation Watchtower, a joint federal and state investigation, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.
Reed was charged with knowingly giving or promising to give money to another person to vote or to influence that person to vote for or against any candidate, and electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place.
She was re-elected as mayor in April of 2017.
In July of the same year, village trustees voted to give Reed sole authority for hiring and firing village employees.
“I think everyone has enough trust in me that I can make the decisions,” Reed told the Belleville News-Democrat at the time.
According to a criminal complaint, by December of 2017, Reed was charged for demoting Alorton Police Sergeant Leon Hughes “in retaliation for his testimony in a proceeding where [Hughes] had reasonable cause to believe that the information in this testimony disclosed a violation of state or federal law,” the Belleville News-Democrat reported.
The complaint alleged that Reed had “performed an act which she knew was forbidden by law…in that she committed the offense of official misconduct” by violating the Illinois Whistle Blower Act, according to the paper.
In February, Sgt. Hughes sued the village, Alorton Police Chief David Clark, and Reed for “shunning him,” the Belleville News-Democrat reported.
Reed has been charged with felony vote buying and official misconduct, and is scheduled to go to trial on Nov. 13, according to the Belleville News-Democrat.