Embattled Metro-East police chief taken down in video game sting
This undated photo shows Michael Baxton, former police chief of Alorton, Ilinois. He was removed from office on October 17, 2011 after an investigation into a felony conviction in his background. By KMOV Web Producer
(KMOV.com) -- One day after he resigned as the East St. Louis Police Chief, Michael Baxton pleaded guilty to two federal charges which include stealing five video game systems.
At a hearing on Thursday, Baxton pleaded guilty to two federal charges. The charges allege that Baxton stole government property and then lied to federal agents about the thefts.
In October, 2011, while Baxton was still the police chief in Alorton, Illinois, his integrity came into question after evidence under his control was reported missing from a secure room within his office. Federal agents were then dispatched to launch an investigation into Baxton's practices as a law enforcement official.
On October 5th, 2011, federal agents arranged for a federally-owned vehicle to be registered to a fake Illinois business. That vehicle was then entered into the National Crime Information Center database as stolen. The purportedly stolen vehicle was loaded with five Xbox 360 video game consoles that had been purchased by the FBI for the sting operation.
Baxton, along with a Village of Alorton police officer who was assisting the federal investigation, responded to the call of an abandoned vehicle. When Baxton discovered the game systems in the set-up vehicle, he took four of the units and directed the other officer to take the fifth one.
When federal agents questioned Baxton about the video game systems, he denied taking them.
After his pleas, Baxton, 49, was released on bond, pending his sentencing, which is set for April 27th this year.
“It is a sad day when law enforcement must pursue one of their own. There is no pleasure to be taken in convicting a police officer. The citizens of Southern Illinois should be continually assured that my office will never tolerate police misconduct in any fashion. By knowing that, citizens may be confident that they can place their trust in the overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers who are honest and professional and who risk their lives every day for our safety,” said United States Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton.
If convicted, Baxton faces up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $500,000.
To see the complete list of charges against Baxton, click here.