Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jailed Mayor Is Freed on Bond in Plea Bargain

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jailed Mayor Is Freed on Bond in Plea Bargain

Article excerpt

Washington Park Mayor Sylvester Jackson, held in jail for 22 days as a threat to witnesses against him in a multimillion-dollar gambling case, went free on bond Friday after reaching a plea-bargain agreement with prosecutors.

Terms of the agreement will not be disclosed until a hearing Tuesday, but a prosecutor said in federal court at East St. Louis on Friday that Jackson was now cooperating with investigators.

Jackson, 44, is the only public official charged in the case, which revolves around Belleville businessman Thomas P. Venezia and his B & H Vending/Ace Music Corp. Venezia, Jackson and various others have been indicted on charges of racketeering, bribery, money laundering and gambling.

Venezia, 51, and some of his family members are linked to topless nightclubs in Washington Park. He also has business ties in St. Louis, where he owns the Laclede Cab Co.

A former B & H vice president, Charles G. Treser, 56, of Belleville, previously pleaded guilty of racketeering in the case. Guilty pleas were entered Thursday by 10 of the 27 tavern owners from across St. Clair County who allegedly allowed illegal gambling with video machines supplied by B & H. Authorities said they split illegal profits with Venezia.

Indictments returned last month claim Jackson took a cut of the proceeds to protect Venezia's operation. The mayor was employed by B & H as a "troubleshooter."

Jackson had no comment for reporters as he emerged Friday from custody. Asked what he planned to do first, he replied, "Hug my wife." He then embraced and kissed his wife, Brenda, and headed to Lambert Field to see his son off on a new Navy assignment.

That trip to St. Louis required special approval of Chief U.S. District Judge William D. Stiehl, who otherwise ordered Jackson to stay in the Southern Illinois court district, be home every night between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., surrender any guns he has and keep away from co-defendants. …

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