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Year’s worth of overtime fraud nets guilty plea by police officer

An East St. Louis police officer appeared in federal district court Friday and pleaded guilty to obtaining department funds by fraud. Mario H. Fennoy, 48, of Lebanon, entered an “open plea” to the federal indictment returned against him in June, admitting that he falsely submitted claims for overtime pay for nearly a year while working as a patrol sergeant with the East St. Louis Police Department.

According to the indictment, while he claimed to be working overtime, Fennoy was actually spending extended periods of time at a secondary residence in East St. Louis. Fennoy was also accused of falsely clearing calls and reporting that he had responded to dispatches when, in fact, he never left the house.

From April 2017 to March 2018, he allegedly submitted over 50 bogus requests for overtime pay totaling over 200 hours.

Fennoy acknowledged in court Friday that he obtained the overtime compensation by fraud. The indictment alleges that the false claims significantly increased Fennoy’s earnings, from his base salary of $69,382 to $205,000 in total wages in 2017. The parties, however, do not have an agreement as to the total loss.

Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 27, 2020. Fraudulently obtaining money from an organization that receives federal funds, like the East St. Louis Police Department, carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Restitution is mandatory.

“The City of East St. Louis is a high crime area served by very dedicated police officers, many of whom work considerable overtime,” said U.S. Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft. “Abuse of the overtime system by one officer should not detract from the important work of the East St. Louis Police Department as a whole.”

The investigation was conducted by the Southern Illinois Public Corruption Task Force, which consists of agents with the FBI, Internal Revenue Service/Criminal Investigation, and the Illinois State Police. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman R. Smith.

Citizens are encouraged to report suspicions of public corruption to the Southern Illinois Public Corruption Task Force Tip Line at (618) 589-7373.

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