Former Illinois legislator sentenced to one year in prison for cheating on her taxes

Former Illinois legislator sentenced to one year in prison for cheating on her taxes

Former Illinois legislator sentenced to one year in prison for cheating on her taxes

A federal judge on Friday sentenced former Illinois Sen. Annazette Collins to a year in prison for cheating on her taxes in a case related to the same investigation that ensnared former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

In February, a jury convicted Collins of filing false individual tax returns for the years 2014 and 2015, failing to file one for 2016, and failing to file a corporate tax return for 2016.

“His crimes were motivated by greed,” said U.S. District Judge Jorge Alonso. “She doesn’t want to hear that, but it’s absolutely true.”

Prosecutors say he ultimately evaded more than $150,000 in taxes and asked the judge to sentence Collins to about two years in prison. Collins’ attorney argued that she evaded nearly $30,000 in taxes and requested probation.

The feds argued that Collins refused to accept responsibility and instead has been “hiding behind vitriol and recrimination.” Although she was indicted in 2021, prosecutors say Collins owes more than $68,000 in taxes, interest and penalties for the years 2020 through 2022.

In a letter to the judge, Collins said she “disappointed voters” and is “determined to never be in this situation again.”

“I feel ashamed and humiliated because my name has been tarnished and my legacy ruined.” Collins wrote.

Collins’ name has appeared repeatedly in the Dirksen Federal Court over the years, including in two 2023 corruption trials. Her own trial revealed that she was caught while working at an insurance company submitting false policies for people who did not they requested them or “they did not exist.” The allegations did not lead to criminal charges.

Testimony Friday revealed that the alleged fraud diverted more than $12,000 to Collins. However, none of that led to criminal charges, and his lawyer suggested that Collins had been trying to help unbanked people get life insurance.

Meanwhile, the case brought by prosecutors revolved around his work with his lobbying firm, Kourtnie Nicole Corp., after his years in the legislature. That company ended up raising considerable sums from politically connected companies and public services.

Among them were ComEd and AT&T Illinois, who were caught up in Madigan’s investigation and faced criminal charges.

The jury heard that ComEd paid Collins’ company $207,000 and AT&T Illinois paid him $95,343. A company linked to former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker, one of four political insiders convicted last year of conspiring to bribe Madigan, paid Collins’ company $11,000. And the Roosevelt Group lobbying firm linked to Victor Reyes, who figured prominently in Hooker’s trial, paid $2,500.

Meanwhile, the jury also heard that Collins used money from his lobbying firm to pay for his car, tuition and mortgage, and to finance a trip to Punta Cana in 2015, all while filing tax returns that made it appear he earned sums. paltry amounts of as little as $11,000 a year after leaving public office.

During last year’s separate trial of Hooker and three others convicted of a nearly decade-long conspiracy to bribe Madigan, jurors saw a handwritten list of favored lobbyists that included the name “Annazette.”

The list appeared on Talbott Hotel stationery and was supposedly dubbed the “magic list” by Madigan confidant Michael McClain, who was among those convicted with Hooker.

Jurors in the separate trial of businessman James Weiss then heard that Collins also worked as a lobbyist for Weiss’s company, Collage LLC. Weiss was convicted of bribing then-state Rep. Luis Arroyo and then-state Sen. Terry Link, and is now serving a 66-month prison sentence.