Former Edwardsville Police Chief Pleads Guilty in Theft and Embezzlement
James S. Bedell, 58, of Edwardsville, Illinois, the former Police Chief from that city, pled guilty to an Information charging four counts of Embezzlement and Theft from the City of Edwardsville - a local government that received federal funds for the calendar years 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. The offenses each carry a statutory maximum sentence of up to ten years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and mandatory restitution. Sentencing is scheduled for August 2, 2013.
“I am disgusted and saddened when called upon to prosecute someone who had sworn to uphold the law. By far and away, most police officers are above reproach. They are the constant guardians of our very freedom. Unfortunately, individuals sometimes succumb to their greed, stealing from those they have vowed to protect and serve. In instances like that, I will not hesitate to bring full and thorough prosecutions.” said United States Attorney Wigginton. “Police officers are held to a higher standard. While most exceed that standard, day in and day out, often the few who do not get the most attention.”
As revealed in open Court, Bedell was employed as the Director of Police, and was referred to as the Chief of Police of the City of Edwardsville from approximately 2007 through October 5, 2012. As part of the plea, Bedell admitted that from July of 2009 through September of 2012, while Chief for the City of Edwardsville, he unlawfully removed cash and money orders from a lockbox in the police department that contained vehicle impound fees. The City of Edwardsville charges a $300 fee for vehicles towed as a result of certain enumerated violations. The $300 administrative fee must be paid by cash or money order and the paid administrative fee is revenue to the City which must be properly accounted for. Accordingly such funds received are not for the personal use of an employee of the City of Edwardsville. Bedell admitted as part of the plea that he converted some of the funds to his personal use, generally to support a gambling habit. The United States has indicated that it believes the total loss is approximately $138,000. Bedell is contesting this calculation of the loss amount.
The Information is the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Illinois State Police, with the assistance of the City of Edwardsville. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman R. Smith.