Collins sentenced to 42 months in federal prison

January 12, 2019

URBANA — Former Kankakee Valley Park District Executive Director Roy Collins was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in federal prison on Friday in U.S. District Court.

The self-proclaimed “King of the Parks” is to report to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons on Feb. 26. After his release, he will be on probation two years.

Collins did not comment after the two-hour, 45-minute hearing in U.S. District Court.

Before being sentenced, Collins said, “I’m embarrassed for what I did. I apologize to the park district, the board and the residents of the district. I apologize to my family.

“I let down a lot of people. For that I am sorry.”

Collins’ family, including his parents, were in the courtroom.

He also told Chief Judge James Shadid he took responsibility for what he did. He apologized to Shaun Szymborski, a former friend who booked musical acts for the 2014 and 2015 BBQ Fest. Collins admitted to making Szymborski pay kickbacks for doing business with the Fest.

“I should have done better. I take full responsibility,” Collins said.

Shadid said Collins showed remorse Friday, more than what he read in the letter Collins wrote him previously.

U.S. Assistant Attorney Katherine V. Boyle called the 11-page letter “more about Mr. Collins’ accomplishments rather than taking responsibility.”

Collins’ attorney, Gregory T. Mitchell, said his client became intoxicated with the success he had in his first three years as the district’s director.

It included taking over and refurbishing the former armory in downtown Kankakee to become a recreation center that could host other events.

Collins also will have to pay the park district restitution. That will be decided in a month during a conference between Shadid, Boyle and Collins’ attorney, Mitchell.

A presentence report recommends the restitution be between $20,000 and $200,000.

Boyle said that Collins owes the park district $190,450.39.

“He built a private park on his own land,” Boyle said in making reference to a pond Collins had built on his Kankakee property, using district funds.

That is what got park district board member Dave Skelly, a lieutenant with Kankakee Police, to contact Illinois State Police to look into if it had been done illegally.

Ironically, Skelly replaced Collins on the board in 2011 when Collins was hired as the executive director.

The charges against Collins span from early 2012, when prosecutors allege unauthorized credit card purchases started, until early 2016, when prosecutors say Collins started creating false documents to conceal the theft from the Kankakee Valley Park Foundation.

Prosecutors were able to bring federal charges for mail fraud because Collins wrote a $3,008 check to Sky Group to purchase a pond liner for his home. The use of his park district credit card for a $234 pair of boots from Boot Country in Nashville, Tenn., gave prosecutors the ability to bring charges of wire fraud.

Collins was also accused of taking money from BBQ Fest receipts in 2014 and 2015. A bank loan of $25,000 was alleged to have been used by Collins to cover up his financial dealings.

Collins’s first sentence hearing after pleading in September 2017 took place Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 2018.

At the end of hearing, Mitchell made a motion to withdraw the guilty plea, based on what he said was false grand jury testimony by investigators.

At a hearing on Dec. 3, Shadid denied Collins’ motion.

Collins became the executive director for the district in 2011. He was a district board member four years prior to being hired.

Collins voted for is own hiring.

Update hourly