CHICAGO (CN) – The 7th Circuit affirmed the sentence of former East St. Louis Deputy Liquor Commissioner Walter Hill, who pleaded guilty last year to attempted extortion and lying to FBI agents.
East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks created the deputy liquor commissioner position and appointed Hill, who was one of Parks’ campaign organizers and college fraternity brothers.
Hill began using his authority to grant, suspend or revoke licenses, as well as levy fines to extort bribes from liquor store owners. He was also charged with soliciting sexual favors from a female license holder.
U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan gave Hill an above-guidelines sentence of five years. Among other factors, Reagan cited pervasive corruption in East St. Louis and the need to deter future corruption.
The lack of mayoral oversight that had allowed Hill to “blatantly flaunt and misuse his power for personal benefit” also made him a “significant” public official, subject to enhanced sentencing guidelines.
A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court affirmed.
“The district judge provided a model statement of all the reasons that justify this modest sentence for the blatant abuse of power by a significant official in a corrupt area of Illinois,” Judge John Tinder wrote for the court. “The court’s sentencing considerations were proper, and together constituted permissible rationale for imposing this reasonable above-guidelines sentence.”