Walter D. Hill: Former East St. Louis Official Guilty of Extorting Cash, Sex and Liquor from Bar Owners

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click to enlarge Step one: Become Deputy Liquor Commissioner in East St. Louis - Image source
Step one: Become Deputy Liquor Commissioner in East St. Louis
Last May, East St. Louis mayor Alvin Parks called an "emergency town-hall meeting" to discuss the issue of late night violence at the city's nightclubs and a federal corruption investigation into his administration that culminated with FBI agents raiding city hall on March 26, 2008.

During the proceedings, one woman stood up and accused Walter D. Hill, the city's deputy liquor commissioner and a Parks appointee, of shaking down local business owners.

According to the indictment (see the whole document below), Hill's office gave him the power to "revoke or suspend liquor licenses" and issue citations.

"I been told by more than a few employees and club owners," she said, "that even your own assistant comes into the business, goes behind their bar, drinks from the bottle and then asks for some type of, um, 'economic facilitation' to get their liquor license. Mr. Mayor, are you monitoring your own staff?"

Turns out he wasn't.

Earlier today, Hill pleaded guilty to felony charges of making false statements to federal agents and attempted extortion.

In July 2008, the owner of liquor/convenience store in East St. Louis contacted the FBI and alleged that Hill had closed his business for minor infractions and was demanding a bribe of $5,000 to let him re-open.

The store owner paid Hill $500 at first and then another $1,300 to Hill's associate. Less than two weeks later, Hill's enforcer returned and demanded an additional $2,300. The store owner handed over $1,000 that had been given to him by the FBI as part of the investigation.

In October, the business owner wanted to move to a new location. Wearing a wire and a hidden video camera, he recorded Hill in his office, suggesting a building that he could buy, negotiating a price, and demanding a 20 percent cut of the business' proceeds in exchange for brokering the deal and fixing a liquor license for the man, who couldn't otherwise obtain one because he had no social security number.

Hill eventually hooked up the liquor license in exchange for $700. He was also recorded taking $1,380 from a drawer in his desk and stuffing it into his sock.

The indictment also alleges that Hill solicited "cash, liquor and requests for sexual favors," from "other liquor license holders in East St. Louis."

For more on the East St. Louis nightlife controversy and the federal probe into city hall, read "Last Call?: East St. Louis nightclubs under siege."

Walter Hill Indictment

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