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Red Bud mayor accused of lying to federal investigators in Columbia mayor’s case

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Former Red Bud Mayor Tim Lowry will have a combined initial appearance, arraignment and plea hearing on Aug. 13 at the federal courthouse in East St. Louis. 

 

Former Red Bud Mayor Tim Lowry has been indicted by a federal grand jury for his alleged role in an insurance scheme involving former Columbia Mayor Kevin Hutchinson.

Lowry was charged last week in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois with one count of making a false statement to members of the Southern Illinois Public Corruption Task Force.

That’s a felony with a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, said Nathan Stump, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Fairview Heights.

Hutchinson was indicted on Feb. 24 for the same crime. He resigned as mayor on March 1, pleaded guilty on March 22 and was sentenced on June 28 to two years probation, a $500 fine and 40 hours of community service.

Lowry has requested a combined initial appearance, arraignment and plea hearing, signaling that he also plans to plead guilty. His hearing has been set for Aug. 13 at the federal courthouse in East St. Louis.

Attorney Justin Kuehn declined to comment Monday. He’s representing Lowry, along with Stephen Williams, of Kuehn, Beasley & Young in Belleville.

Lowry’s resignation was on the agenda for the July 6 meeting of Red Bud City Council, but he ended up not resigning that night to “ease the transition,” according to a story in the Waterloo Republic-Times.

Lowry reportedly didn’t mention his legal problems at the meeting, only that he had a personal “pending issue” that he couldn’t yet discuss publicly.

The indictments against Hutchinson and Lowry state that:

  • Hutchinson was a director with C.J. Thomas Insurance Co. in St. Louis and owner of B.M.C. Associates.
  • Hutchinson earned referral commissions on insurance policies for city of Columbia employees, unbeknownst to Columbia City Council members or the city administrator.
  • Those commissions were prohibited under state law because of Hutchinson’s status as an elected municipal official.
  • Hutchinson made false statements to members of the Southern Illinois Public Corruption Task Force investigating his case.
  • Lowry was an insurance agent and owner of Ackermann Agency in Red Bud.
  • Hutchinson recommended that the city of Columbia’s casualty-loss and workers-compensation insurance be obtained through Ackermann.
  • On April 3, 2019, an FBI agent and task-force officer with the Illinois State Police questioned Lowry about Hutchinson’s case.
  • Lowry stated that he didn’t pay Hutchinson for the referral.
  • Lowry directed $15,854 to C.J. Thomas from 2016 to 2018, representing 40% of commissions on the city of Columbia’s policy.

Lowry served as mayor from 2011 until July 19, when Red Bud City Council appointed former Ward 4 Alderwoman Susan Harbaugh as acting mayor, according to an employee who answered the phone at City Hall on Monday.

The employee declined to comment on Lowry’s departure. She referred questions to City Administrator Pam Poetker, who was out of the office. Harbaugh didn’t respond to a request for a callback.

Harbaugh is the first woman mayor of Red Bud, the Republic-Times reported. She was elected alderwoman in 2017. She will serve the remainder of Lowry’s term, ending in 2023.

The Illinois Public Officer Prohibited Activities Act prohibited Hutchinson and Lowry from being “financially interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract, work or business of the municipality,” their indictments stated.

The case against Lowry is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman Smith in the Southern District of Illinois.

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