View Full Version : Democrat Vote Fraud and Murder Plot- (St. Louis)

01-22-2005, 02:13 PM
Murder plot charge stems from voting probe

Kelvin Ellis, a top administrator at East St. Louis City Hall, plotted to kill a witness in a federal vote fraud investigation, according to indictments opened Friday, which also accuse Police Chief Ron Matthews of apparently unrelated crimes.

Matthews is accused of helping a former auxiliary police officer with a felony record regain a pistol that had been taken from him, and of lying about it. That auxiliary officer, Ayoub S. Qattoum, and Matthews' secretary, Janerra Carson-Slaughter, also were charged.

The vote fraud and gun cases appeared to be unconnected. Court documents provide a narrow window on the accusations. Federal officials made only measured statements at a news conference, and hinted there is more to come from a yearlong investigation.

This is "the beginning of a concerted and focused effort to root out public corruption," said Weysan Dun, special agent in charge of the FBI's Springfield, Ill., field office, which has jurisdiction over the Metro East area.

Ellis, 55, who once served a prison term after abusing a city post, is now the director of regulatory affairs, which puts him in charge of housing inspections. He also is a precinct committeeman with close ties to the community's Democratic Party leaders.

The indictments accuse Ellis of trying to have an unidentified witness killed. Court documents say he is a target of an ongoing vote fraud inquiry. He also is accused in a separate indictment of income tax evasion.

The investigation became public last year when more than a dozen subpoenas were delivered to city Democratic Party leaders after the November election.

According to one of Ellis' indictments, the investigation began at least a month earlier. A female witness told agents on Oct. 5 that Ellis, "had committed election fraud and other potential criminal offenses." Ellis learned the same day of the substance of what she had said, the indictment states.

In the following days, Ellis spoke repeatedly with an unidentified person, first discussing plans to discredit the witness, perhaps through a bogus drug sting, court documents say. The indictment includes excerpts of what appear to be recordings of these conversations between Ellis and the other person.

"I want her credibility destroyed," Ellis is reported to have said. She is "trying to destroy us. No telling what she's saying."

As the weeks passed, the conversations turned more sinister, with Ellis saying on Nov. 19, "I want her ... taken out, however we have to do it."

That was one day after Ellis had been called before the grand jury.

Ellis, a longtime municipal official who has held various posts, was convicted in 1990 of extortion. He had been an executive assistant to Mayor Carl E. Officer, officials said, when Ellis stopped work on a nursing home project until its builder steered work to a company Ellis controlled. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 21 months.

He has worked off and on for the city since, returning full time in 2001.

Ellis was arrested at an undisclosed location Friday morning in St. Louis. He faces four counts of obstruction of justice, which include the murder plot allegation, and three counts of income tax evasion, one that says he filed a false return and two that say he failed to file.

He was ordered held pending a hearing Thursday.

The case against Chief Matthews, 55, of East St. Louis, centers around Qattoum, 40, of Belleville, a convenience store owner who goes by the name of "Dave." As an auxiliary officer for several months last year, Qattoum wore a badge, carried a .38-caliber pistol and participated in drug raids wearing a windbreaker emblazoned with "Police" across the back.

Auxiliary officers are allowed to help police with crowd and traffic control, but do not have the authority of real officers.

According to the indictment, Qattoum was convicted in 1993 of a felony, and in 1998 of a misdemeanor domestic battery. Officials said either would make it illegal for him to carry a gun.

After an altercation, East St. Louis police officers arrested Qattoum, on Aug. 7 and seized his gun. Concerns about his immigration status prompted a detective to call federal authorities, who began a firearms investigation.

According to the indictment, Matthews took over the investigation, gained control of the files, and turned the gun back over to Qattoum on Oct. 11 or 12. According to excerpts from his testimony Nov. 16, the chief told the grand jury he never spoke with Qattoum about the gun. Matthews is accused of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and perjury.

Qattoum is charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice, gun violations and making a false statement. He was detained pending a hearing Friday. He has a passport from Jordan, and officials were not able to determine his native country. U.S. Attorney Ron Tenpas said Qattoum is not a U.S. citizen.

Matthews' secretary, Carson-Slaughter, 28, of East St. Louis, is accused of taking a $1,500 bribe to help Qattoum get the pistol back. She is charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

Pleas of not guilty were entered on behalf of all four of those arrested Friday. Ellis was the only one to appear with his own lawyer; the others were represented by public defenders.

Matthews, who arrived in court in his police chief uniform, and his secretary were released on bond without posting cash. They left the courthouse arm-in-arm, surrounded by supporters, and declined to comment to reporters.

Acting East St. Louis City Manager Alvin Parks said Friday that he pledged to federal officials his "full cooperation in their efforts to stamp out corruption." He said Assistant Chief Marion Hubbard would take control of the police department for now. There was no announcement about the jobs of Ellis or Carson-Slaughter.

Mayor Officer reacted Friday by saying, "I'm embarrassed for the citizens and I hurt for the families of some of the individuals. I'm perplexed that they put themselves in this situation."

Agents from the FBI, Internal Revenue Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Postal Inspection Service worked together on the case with Illinois State Police in what Tenpas described as a new anti-corruption task force.

Four are charged

KELVIN ELLIS, 55, director of regulatory affairs for East St. Louis
Obstruction of a federal voter fraud investigation by attempting to have a witness killed.
Three counts of tax evasion for filing a false return in 2001 and filing no returns in 2002 and 2003.

RONALD MATTHEWS, 55, East St. Louis police chief
Conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstructing justice and making a false statement to a grand jury regarding possession of a Smith and Wesson .38-caliber revolver taken from former auxiliary police officer Ayoub S. "Dave" Qattoum. Matthews is accused of directing a police officer to write a false report that the firearm was missing or stolen.

JANERRA CARSON-SLAUGHTER, 28, secretary to police chief
Conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstructing justice for giving the seized gun to a Matthews associate to return to Qattoum. She is accused of taking a $1,500 bribe to get the revolver back.

AYOUB S. "DAVE" QATTOUM, 40, former auxiliary East St. Louis police officer
Conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstructing justice, convicted felon in possession of a gun, prohibited person in possession of a firearm and making a false statement to the Department of Homeland Security.