By ERIN SANSON
The trial of former State Senator for the 49th, then 50th district, which includes Morgan, Greene, Pike, Scott and Calhoun counties and portions of Jersey, Macoupin, Madison and Sangamon counties, and former Gubernatorial candidate William “Sam” McCann Jr. was back on and then off again in recent weeks.
McCann made a virtual reappearance in court on Feb. 2, where the Judge overseeing his case, Magistrate Judge Eric Long, granted a request to continue the case to prepare the defense before trial. Long granted the continuance and vacated McCann’s trial date which was set for Feb. 14. A status hearing has been set for March 13 and jury selection for the trial has been set for June 25.
The continuance was granted after McCann’s federal public defender, Rosana Brown, requested to withdraw as counsel from the case citing, “a conflict of interest,” as being the reason for the parting and continuing by saying, “the federal public defender’s interests have become materially adverse and the attorney-client relationship is irreparably broken.”
The court then appointed attorney Chuck Schierer to represent McCann. Schierer will be the third attorney representing McCann since the trial began in Feb. 2021. Schierer filed the request for continuance on Jan. 25, making it the tenth such request in the trial.
McCann was federally indicted in 2021 with nine counts against him. The indictment indicated he used some of about $5 million in campaign funds for personal expenses and concealed that use from donors, the state and law enforcement agencies.
The first seven counts against McCann accuse him of fraud by wire, radio or television. Court documents state that “beginning in or about May 2015 until June 2020, the defendant devised and executed a scheme to defraud donors and contributors to his campaigns and to obtain money and property by means of materially false pretenses, promises and representations.”
He was also charged with money laundering, in which “on or about June 15, 2018, the defendant conducted and caused to be conducted, a financial transaction affecting interstate and foreign commerce.”
The ninth charge was for attempting to evade or defeat tax, charging documents state that, “In or about Jan. 2018 through in or about Oct. 2019, the defendant willfully attempted to evade and defeat income tax due and owning by him and his spouse.”
McCann plead not guilty to the charges, though in August, Brown indicated a plea deal may have been in the works.
McCann currently remains free on recognizance bond with several conditions. If convicted on all counts, McCann could face more than 45 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
According to a Press Release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central Illinois District from Feb. 2021, several instances of the use of campaign funds to purchase personal vehicles, pay personal debts, make mortgage payments, and pay himself were alleged, including:
The use of more than $60,000 of campaign funds to partially fund the purchases of a 2017 Ford and a 2018 Ford truck, both of which were titled in his own name and used for personal travel. Campaign funds were then further used for loan payments on the truck and for fuel and insurance expenses on both vehicles. McCann at the same time was allegedly using campaign funds to reimburse mileage expense claims he did not incur;
In April 2018, it is alleged that McCann used $18,000 in campaign funds to purchase a recreational trailer and in May of the same year used $25,000 to buy a motor home, both of which were titled under McCann’s name;
An online account with a recreational vehicle rental business was created and listed the vehicles for rent identifying Sam McCann as the owner. McCann then established a second account with the same business, identifying himself as William McCann, a potential renter, with a different residential address and email than those he listed as the owner. From approximately May 2018 to June 2018, McCann, while representing himself as the renter, William, rented both the travel trailer and motor home from Sam, the owner, through the RV rental business. McCann caused a total of approximately $62,666 in campaign funds to be used to pay the rental cost of the vehicles. The rental business retained approximately $9,838 for commission and paid McCann, as the owner, approximately $52,827 by direct deposit to McCann’s personal checking account. McCann reimbursed the campaign accounts $18,000, resulting in more than $77,000 in campaign funds used to buy and rent from himself;
On or about Oct. 4, 2016, McCann allegedly used a $20,000 cashier’s check funded by a campaign account and issued to himself to pay off a personal loan, including legal fees, that had originally been issued to him as an equipment loan in 2011 and was in collection by the bank due to non-payment;
From May 2015 to August 2020, McCann allegedly used campaign funds to pay approximately $64,750 on two separate personal mortgage loans that were secured by his former residence in Carlinville and an adjoining property used as an office for his construction business;
In November 2018, after an unsuccessful campaign for Governor of Illinois, when he was no longer a candidate for office and did not financially support any other candidate, and continuing to June 2020, McCann allegedly caused the Conservative Party of Illinois to issue approximately $187,000 in payments to himself personally and an additional $52,282 in payments for payroll taxes. Using a payroll service, McCann was allegedly able to conceal himself as the payee for the expenditures from the campaign account;
The indictment also alleges that approximately $50,000 in campaign funds were used for personal expenses including Green Dot credit card payments related to a family vacation in Colorado and other personal expenses, charges from Apple iTunes, Amazon, a skeet and trap club, Cabela’s, Scheels, Best Buy, a gun store, and cash withdrawals.