© 2024 NPR Illinois
The Capital's Community & News Service
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Former IL Lawmaker Pleads Guilty To Federal Charge

Amanda Vinicky

  A former state legislator is the latest in a string of Illinois politicians to come under federal scrutiny for misconduct.  Wednesday,  longtime Rep. Connie Howard pleaded guilty to mail fraud.  
Though she'd served since 1995, Connie Howard is no longer a member of the House. 

She resigned last July amid a federal investigation into state grants. But that's not what led her to plead guilty in federal court. 
Howard, who's 70, admitted to soliciting money for student scholarships.  Instead, the Chicago Democrat only gave out five scholarships worth $2,500 each -- and kept $28,000 for herself and her campaign. 
As she entered her guilty plea, Judge Byron Cudmore asked Howard if she knew what she was doing was wrong - to which Howard clearly, stoically, replied "Yes."  Afterward, Howard declined to answer a reporters' question about why she did it. 
As part of the deal, prosecutors can recommend she go to prison for up to six months, but Howard's attorney, Michael Metnick, says she should get no prison time. "She has done many wonderful, outstanding things throughout her lifetime," he said.
Though prosecutors say this investigation is over, they wouldn't say if there are others. But cooperating with the government is part of her plea deal, and will be taken into consideration when she's sentenced in November.
The terms of Howard's $10,000 bond mean she must stay within Northern and Central Illinois  until the sentencing.  Howard offered no comment before her husband escorted her into a car. 
Two current members of the Illinois House, Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) and Rep.  Derrick Smith (D-Chicago), are fighting federal indictments in unrelated cases.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
Related Stories