Former Metro East official sentenced after possessing weapon, lying to investigators -

Former Metro East official sentenced after possessing weapon, lying to investigators

ALORTON, Il ( -- The former Superintendent of the Street Department for the Village of Alorton, has been sentenced Monday, for being a felon in possession of firearm ammunition and for making false statements to federal law enforcement officers.

Ronnie D. Cummings, 39, was indicted on January 19 as part of an ongoing probe into allegations of systemic corruption within the municipality. Cummings was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison, to be followed by two years’ supervised release, and fined $400.

Cummings’s sentencing is the latest in a string of federal prosecutions of officials from the Village

of Alorton. The former police chief, Michael Baxton, Sr. was sentenced to prison for one year on April 27 for stealing evidence and lying to federal investigators.

The former mayor, Randy McCallum, pled guilty on February 24 for attempted possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance (crack cocaine), theft or conversion of government property, attempting to smuggle contraband into a correctional facility, and making false statements to federal law enforcement officers.

“The people of Alorton deserve better. The people of Southern Illinois deserve to have public officials in whom they can place their trust. I will not hesitate in my ongoing efforts to ensure that corrupt public officials are taken from their positions and dealt with by our criminal justice system. In this way I serve notice on public officials – public service is a public trust. Perform your service so that people may have the utmost trust in their officials,” said United States Attorney Wigginton.

Ronnie Cummings was investigated after a Village of Alorton police officer who was assisting the ongoing federal public corruption investigation in an undercover capacity learned that Cummings carried a firearm in his city vehicle, despite a 2001 felony conviction for distribution of a controlled substance.

In the fall of 2011, Cummings told the undercover officer that he wanted to obtain an extra “clip” for his gun. A “clip” is a common reference to the magazine that holds ammunition inside of a semiautomatic handgun.

Federal law provides for a sentencing enhancement in this case because Cummings’ magazine holds 16 rounds of ammunition and is deemed a “high capacity” magazine. Recorded conversations revealed that Cummings stated that he wanted an additional large capacity magazine.

Cummings stated that he intended to fire his gun through a bag that would catch spent shell casings.

On January 4, 2012, the undercover officer drove to Cummings’ address in Alorton for the purpose of discussing obtaining an extra firearm magazine for Cummings. The officer told Cummings that he needed to know the model number of his gun to ensure that he obtained a proper magazine that would fit into his gun.

In response, Cummings handed the officer a 9mm magazine loaded with live 9mm ammunition. To further clarify which particular model of gun he owned, the officer asked Cummings to provide him with the model number of his gun. Cummings reached into a closet and retrieved a semi-automatic handgun.

Cummings examined the firearm and told the officer that it was a Smith and Wesson model 9VE. Cummings maintained control over the firearm, but the officer left the residence with the magazine loaded with 9 mm ammunition.

The undercover officer went directly to meet an FBI agent and he turned the magazine and ammunition over to federal authorities. The entire event was secretly recorded. Cummings’ fingerprints were found on the magazine.

Cummings also pled guilty to lying to federal agents when he was questioned on January 5, 2012.

During that interview, Cummings falsely stated that he had never possessed any firearms or firearms ammunition after becoming a convicted felon, when in truth and in fact Cummings possessed a magazine containing fourteen 9 mm cartridges for his Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter firearm.

The investigation was conducted through the Metro East Public Corruption Task Force by agents from the Internal Revenue Service, the Illinois State Police, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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