Plea agreement may be coming for McCann

A plea agreement may be in the works for a former state senator and gubernatorial candidate accused of federal crimes more than a year and a half ago.

The nine-count federal indictment lodged against William “Sam” McCann Jr. in February 2021 contends he used some of about $5 million in campaign money he oversaw for personal purchases and concealed it from donors, the state and law enforcement authorities.

Seven of the counts allege fraudulent misuse of campaign money and providing false reports to the IRS. Two accuse him of money laundering and tax evasion, willfully evading taxes in 2018 and preparing false reports.

He has pleaded not guilty and is free on bond.

McCann represented the state’s 49th Senate District — which later became the 50th District — which included Calhoun, Greene, Morgan, Pike and Scott counties along with portions of Jersey, Macoupin, Madison and Sangamon counties. After seven years, he left the Republican Party in 2018 to create his own party and make a failed bid for governor.

The case has been scheduled for trial several times but has been continued for more than a year, mostly because of the volumes of material federal prosecutors have collected in the case. According to court records, that involves more than 64,000 pages of documents.

McCann’s attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Rosana E. Brown, this week requested another 60-day extension, seeking to delay a Sept. 6 trial dates.

She indicated, however, that an agreement could be in the offing.

“A potential resolution has been reached between the parties and additional time is required within which to receive a draft plea agreement from the government, to review it with the defendant and permit him time to consider the offers made, and for the entry of a guilty plea or to prepare for jury trial if necessary,” she said.

Prosecutors did not object to the extension.

Were McCann to go to trial and be convicted on all counts, he would face more than 45 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

A federal grand jury handed up the indictment against McCann on Feb. 23, 2021.

Among the allegations laid out in the indictment, which is a formal charge but is not proof of guilt, was that McCann:

• Used $18,000 in campaign funds to buy a 2018 recreational travel trailer and used $25,000 in campaign funds to buy a 2006 recreational motor home, putting both titles in his own name.

• Established an online account with a recreational vehicle rental business in Ohio to list the vehicles for rent, identifying himself as the owner, and established a second account in which he claimed to be a potential renter with a different residential address and email. By doing so, court documents claim, McCann was able to rent both the travel trailer and motor home from the owner through the RV rental business.

• Spent more than $60,000 in campaign funds to partially fund the purchase of a 2017 Ford Expedition and a 2018 Ford F-250 pickup truck, which he titled in his own name and used for his personal travel.

• Funneled campaign money into loan payments on the pickup truck and for fuel and insurance expenses for both vehicles, while at the same time using campaign funds to reimburse mileage expense claims he did not incur.

• Used $62,666 in campaign funds to pay the rental cost of the recreational vehicle. McCann reimbursed the campaign accounts $18,000, resulting in more than $77,000 in campaign funds being used to buy and rent from himself, according to the indictment.

• Issued himself a $20,000 cashier’s check funded by a campaign account to pay off a personal loan.

• Used campaign funds to pay about $64,750 on two separate personal mortgages.

• Used $50,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses, some related to a family vacation in Colorado and such things as cash withdrawals, charges from Apple iTunes, Amazon and other retail stores.

He also is accused of having about $239,000 in payments issued to himself from the Conservative Party of Illinois. He formed the party to challenge JB Pritzker for governor.

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