Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Washington Park Mayor to Be Held until Trial Jackson's Backers Protest Ruling in Racketeering Case

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Washington Park Mayor to Be Held until Trial Jackson's Backers Protest Ruling in Racketeering Case

Article excerpt

Mayor Sylvester Jackson of Washington Park violated his bond on racketeering charges by threatening witnesses and trying to retaliate against them, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. The judge ordered Jackson held in jail until his trial.

The decision by U.S. Magistrate Judge Gerald B. Cohn infuriated Jackson's supporters and caused a protest and parade outside the federal courthouse in East St. Louis. About 35 people chanted, "We want a mayor," and accused federal prosecutors of a politically motivated vendetta against Jackson.

"The federal government is more corrupt than the charges they've got against the mayor," said Woody Allen, one of the leaders of the crowd.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Miriam Miquelon argued in a hearing Wednesday that Jackson, 44, had violated his bond on a federal racketeering indictment from December and should be held until he can be tried on that and the new indictment announced against him and six others last week.

Cohn noted that a police officer in Washington Park told a grand jury that Jackson had railed against the authorities after his first indictment in December.

The officer testified that Jackson said the prosecutors thought they were digging a hole to bury him, and then added, "All I got to say is, they dig that hole, they better make sure they dig it deep enough for two."

Cohn called that "another statement which can only stand as a threat to the potential witness."

Jackson's attorney, Thomas B. Cannady of Belleville, said Jackson denied all the allegations and insisted that he never threatened anyone. Cannady said the witnesses were a "small group of political enemies who would take any steps necessary to see that his political career is ended."

Cannady noted that a slate of trustee candidates backed by Jackson won Tuesday, even though Jackson had been in jail since last week.

Five of the others indicted with Jackson last week also entered pleas of innocent Wednesday in an arraignment before Cohn. They are charged with operating illegal video-gambling machines in what prosecutors said was a scheme that made more than $14. …

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