A former head of the Chicago police sergeants' union pleaded guilty today to looting more than $1 million in union dues to pay for steak dinners, gambling trips to Las Vegas and a second residence in the city's Sauganash neighborhood.
John Pallohusky, 56, pleaded guilty to one count of theft, a Class 1 felony punishable by anywhere from probation to 15 years in prison, according to Tandra Simonton, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.
Pallohusky entered his plea “blind,” meaning there is no agreement with prosecutors on his sentence, Simonton said. Criminal Courts Judge Diane Cannon is scheduled to sentence him on June 1.
Pallohusky, who was a 21-year veteran of the force at the time of his 2009 arrest, was accused of writing checks from the Chicago Police Sergeants' Association to himself and depositing them into his personal accounts. He was also accused of using association credit cards for personal use.
Pallohusky has been suspended from the Chicago Police Department without pay, said police spokeswoman Melissa Stratton.
The union funds were built by the $25 each member pays per pay period, according to a criminal complaint filed in 2009. Some $765,000 in dues is collected each year from the 1,200 members of the union.
The Police Department's Internal Affairs Division opened an investigation after Chase Bank noticed in 2009 that Pallohusky had deposited tens of thousands of dollars into a personal account from a union credit card account, authorities said. Prosecutors moved to seize Pallohusky's two homes and more than a dozen bank and brokerage accounts.
In a 12-month period before his arrest, Pallohusky used $75,000 in stolen funds on dinners in Loop steakhouses and restaurants, the charges alleged.
“We’re glad that the criminal proceedings have come to an end,” Sgt. James Ade, the current union president, said today. “And we’re cautiously optimistic that we’ll be paid restitution by June 1, so we can put this behind us and move forward.”
Tribune reporter Jeremy Gorner contributed.