Former Columbia mayor gets probation

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The former mayor of Columbia avoided a prison term Monday in federal court, sentenced to probation instead.

Kevin Hutchinson pleaded guilty in March to lying to an FBI agent and a task force officer with the Southern Illinois Public Corruption Task Force about his insurance dealings with the city.

He was sentenced to two years of probation, 40 hours of community service and a $500 fine plus $100 special assessment.

Hutchinson was indicted Feb. 24 at U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois in East St. Louis. Court filings state that he lied when he said he had not received commissions as an insurance agent from a health insurance policy for city employees.

Hutchinson resigned as Columbia mayor on March 1. Bob Hill won the April 6 election and is now mayor of the city. Per court information, the false statement to investigators came on March 20, 2019.

Hutchinson also did not truthfully complete his 2018 statement of economic interest because he did not disclose that he had any financial interest, direct or indirect, with any contract, work or business of Columbia.

That was false because Hutchinson, as Columbia mayor and a licensed insurance agent who owned a closely held corporation called BMC Associates, “received referral commissions from the insurance contracts that the City of Columbia placed with” Maher Rosenheim Comfort Tabash and Illinois Counties Risk Management Trust, per court filings.

The task force, which consists of agents with the FBI, IRS and Illinois State Police, opened an investigation into Hutchinson to determine whether he had violated federal law after learning he received commissions for those contracts.

Hutchinson was prohibited under the Illinois Public Officer Prohibited Activities Act from being financially interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract, work or business of the city.

Hutchinson, who also agreed to that in his guilty plea, has not been charged with a crime on that front.

As part of the negotiated plea agreement, the state and Hutchinson’s defense attorney recommended in March that he be sentenced to two years probation, with the possibility of serving only one year, fined $1,000 and perform 40 hours of community service.

Columbia provides health insurance coverage for its employees and separately maintains property/casualty loss insurance.
MRCT was a benefits firm in St. Louis, offering comprehensive employee benefits, financial products and human resources consulting. The company has since dissolved, with certain aspects of the business being bought by One Digital, which was not a named party in the Hutchinson matter.

Columbia used ICRMT from 2017 through 2020. It cost $223,659 to renew that contract last time.

The city began using MCRT as its broker for employee benefits in 2015.

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