Judge denies Collins’ motion; sentence hearing set for Jan. 11

December 4, 2018

URBANA — Former Kankakee Valley Park District Executive Director Roy Collins’ motion to withdraw his plea of guilty was denied by a federal judge on Monday.

It means Collins, who now lives in Knoxville, will be sentenced for committing mail and wire fraud while he was in charge of the park district. That hearing is set for Jan. 11 in U.S. District Court.

Chief Judge of the Central District Court James E. Shadid made the ruling after listening to arguments from Collins’ attorney Gregory T. Mitchell and Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Boyle.

“I don’t believe they (your arguments) are enough to rule in favor of your client,” Shadid said. “There was sufficient enough evidence and he (Collins) had knowledge to what he pleaded guilty to.”

Collins filed a motion to withdraw his plea of guilty or dismiss the indictment against him following his sentencing hearing Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.

Mitchell argued that Illinois State Police investigator Brad Cosgrove and Kankakee Valley Park District commissioner Dave Skelly gave false testimony to a federal grand jury in May 2016. Skelly is a lieutenant with the Kankakee Police Department.

That testimony broadened the scope to forensic audits done. Mitchell said no evidence was found that Collins stole from the park district or the Kankakee Valley Park District Foundation.

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.

Boyle said both Cosgrove’s testimony and Skelly’s testimony was truthful and prosecutors did not mislead the grand jury.

“We take complete issue,” Boyle said. “Even if there was an error, it was not to prejudice the grand jury.”

After the hearing, current KVPD Executive Director Dayna Heitz said, “Whatever the judge decides, I want closure for the community and the district. We need to move forward.’’

The district has suffered as a result of poor management and bookkeeping. Collins was its director from July 2012 to April 2016, when the board and Collins entered a separation agreement.

In December 2016, the district laid off 16 full-time employees and stopped most of the programs they offered to district residents.

The district also had trouble securing loans to pay salaries and bills.

At the sentencing hearing held earlier this year, Heitz said it would take several years for the district to become solvent.

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