charged with failure to file income tax, state benefits fraud
Thursday, November 28, 2002
...Dixmoor Mayor Donald Luster, who nearly two years ago testified he had not paid income taxes since 1990, has been indicted on allegations of failing to file state income tax returns and fraudulently collecting unemployment benefits.
The indictment charges Luster, 39, of 14209 Circle Drive, with two counts of failure to file Illinois income tax returns and one count of state benefits fraud.Both charges are felonies. Luster
said Tuesday that neither he
attorney had been notified of the indictment; he
denied the allegations.
"I corrected these problems when I took office," he
would make a public statement about the charges during a Dixmoor Village Board meeting Wenesday night. Luster
will be arraigned Dec. 13, the same day as Dixmoor's Christmas party for village employees.
The indictment, handed up late Monday by a Cook County grand jury, accuses Luster
of not filing state income tax returns in 1999 and 2000.It also accuses Luster
of collecting unemployment benefits on at least two occasions between Oct. 16, 1999, and Dec. 31, 1999, while he
was earning wages from Express Personnel Services
, a temporary-employment service. The Illinois Department of Revenue
and the Illinois Department of Employment Security
investigated the case.
Failing to file tax returns is punishable by one to three years in prison, and state benefit fraud carries a possible sentence of two to five years in prison.
The indictment was new grist for Luster's critics.
"I definitely know he stood on the stand himself and said he hasn't paid taxes in nine years," said Brad Carpenter, who ran against Luster
...Other controversies have included Luster's trying to pay himself a salary of $1,250 a month to act as village liquor commissioner three months after becoming mayor.
It had been an unpaid position.
Although state law prohibits a pay increase from taking effect in the same term in which it is approved, the village board gave in and approved a monthly salary of $850. A native son of Dixmoor, Luster works as an independent broker for a local financial firm and does some consulting work.He is also a Baptist minister, serving as an associate pastor at True Vine Church in Dixmoor.
Allegations of tax evasion were leveled against Luster
during the campaign leading up to the April 2001 municipal elections in which Luster
defeated Carpenter by one vote.
But a Cook County circuit court judge ruled unconstitutional the state law that would seem to prohibit Luster
from holding office because of his
During a court hearing about his
convictions and whether he
could take office, Luster
had not filed income tax returns since 1990, and had been driving a vehicle without insurance or proper registration. Luster
has taken care of all the issues he
faced when he
took office in May 2001.
"These are old issues.There is nothing new brewing here.I have nothing to hide," Luster said.
There had been a question about an overpayment of unemployment benefits, Luster
said, "but I took care of that issue as well."
"To me this seems possibly political and/or personal.I know who I am, and I know that I have done nothing wrong," he
"If this is the best they can do to try and get rid of me, then God be with them.But the people must realize that these charges are merely accusations." Luster
said despite the charges he
will continue working to improve the village.
"I am not fretting over this.I have bigger fish to fry," he
said."I am going to keep working to move the village forward."
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