Macon County Jail
Former state Sen. Sam McCann was taken into federal police custody Feb. 9 to await trial on charges of misuse of campaign funds and tax evasion. He is being held at the Macon County Jail in Decatur.
Former Republican state Sen. Sam McCann was taken into federal police custody Feb. 9 after a judge ruled that McCann, who faces charges of misuse of campaign funds and tax evasion, repeatedly failed to inform court officials of his whereabouts.
“There seems to be an excuse every time, and there are no more excuses, sir,” U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Lawless told McCann.
McCann, clean-shaven and dressed in a dark blue suit, showed no emotion as deputy U.S. marshals led him into a room with a temporary cell so he could be formally booked into custody.
He was being held Feb. 10 at the Macon County Jail in Decatur.
Bail is not an option for federal court defendants.
McCann’s bench trial in Springfield’s U.S. District Court is scheduled to begin Feb. 12 after numerous delays and three years after he was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion and granted pretrial release.
McCann, 54, who is representing himself
with the assistance of court-appointed standby attorney Jason Vincent, was unshaven, dressed in a hospital gown and propped up in a hospital bed at Missouri Baptist Medical Center on Feb. 8 as McCann participated in a video hearing on his case.
The unsuccessful former Conservative Party candidate for governor in 2018 had been an inpatient at the St. Louis hospital since at least Feb. 4 but failed to notify probation officials that he had left the federal court’s Central District of Illinois.
McCann later told the judge that he misunderstood conditions of his release he signed. He said he thought he could go anywhere in Illinois and in St. Louis County without notifying the court.
The reasons for McCann being hospitalized in St. Louis, after his wife drove him there, were never disclosed publicly, though Lawless and Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Bass obtained McCann’s medical records through a subpoena. McCann's bench trial was scheduled to begin Feb. 5.
McCann was released from the hospital Feb. 8 and emailed the probation office upon his release. That notification did comply with Lawless’ previous order.
But Lawless ordered McCann Feb. 8 to also notify the probation office once he arrived at his home in Plainview, near Carlinville in Macoupin County.
Lawless said Feb. 9 that McCann didn’t call or email the office when he arrived home. And the judge said neither McCann nor his wife, Vicki, responded to calls and text messages from the office after his discharge from the hospital.
McCann told Lawless that he didn’t receive any such calls or text messages, and he said he twice emailed the probation office after he arrived home Feb. 8.
Lawless allowed McCann to leave the courtroom briefly Feb. 9, accompanied by deputy marshals, to walk across the street to his parked truck and retrieve his smartphone.
PHOTO BY DEAN OLSEN
Federal Judge Colleen Lawless allowed Sam McCann to leave the courtroom briefly Feb. 9, accompanied by deputy marshals, to retrieve his smartphone from his parked truck, shown here. McCann told Lawless he could prove that he had notified the probation office of his arrival home in Macoupin County following his discharge from the hospital.
Reporters at the federal courthouse watched the process and didn’t notice McCann opening his phone before he returned to the courtroom.
Once there, he opened his Gmail account on his phone but was unable to find copies of any emails in his “sent” folder that would verify he notified the probation office once he arrived home.
McCann showed his phone to the judge and said he was puzzled that there was no record on the phone of the emails he tried to send after he got home.
“I don’t see it, but I know I sent it twice,” McCann told the judge. “I know I hit ‘send’ because I did it twice.”
McCann didn’t try to prove whether he did or didn’t receive the voicemails and text messages that probation office officials said they sent to him and his wife.
Lawless said, “This is a continuation of what occurred over the weekend.”
Bass previously told the judge that McCann didn’t need to be hospitalized and that McCann’s conduct was part of his efforts to delay and manipulate the legal process.
"It's our belief ... that this entire situation is self-created by the defendant,” Bass said. “He is lying to you."
Bass wrote in his motion requesting revocation of McCann’s pretrial release that “there is clear and convincing evidence that defendant McCann has violated conditions of his release by, among other things, providing false and incomplete information to the court and by failing to comply with this court’s most recent order to communicate with the probation office immediately upon his return to his residence.
“In addition, the government is concerned that defendant McCann has not complied with the condition of release requiring the removal and verification of removal of numerous firearms from his residence.”
Dean Olsen is a senior staff writer at
Illinois Times. He can be reached at 217-679-7810, [email protected] or twitter.com/DeanOlsenIT.