Albert C. Thompson: Accused of Helping East St. Louis Liquor Official Commit Extortion
Yesterday, the southern Illinois U.S. Attorney's Office announced that Albert C. Thompson has been indicted by a Federal Grand Jury on charges of "attempted extortion under the color of official right," which is a fancy way of saying that he (allegedly) helped a public official put the squeeze on people.
Thompson, 31, hails from Edwardsville but he (allegedly) committed his crime in East St. Louis between July and September of 2008. Authorities claim that Thompson acted as the "bag man" for Walter D. Hill, the former East St. Louis deputy liquor commissioner who pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges that he extorted cash, sex and liquor from the city's business owners.
According to the Post-Dispatch, Thompson is the man named in Hill's indictment who was sent to collect a $1,200 bribe on July 18, 2008 from the owner of the St. Louis Avenue Market.
Thompson took the bribe after presenting Hill's business card, the indictment claims, and asking, "You know who I am? You know what he is expecting?"
Thompson took $1,000 more that July 25, $1,000 on Aug. 6, $500 on Aug. 22 and $800 on Sept. 5, the charge says.
If Thompson is convicted, he faces up to twenty years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. Hill is scheduled to be sentenced later today in East St. Louis.
Hill had threatened to close the store unless he was paid $5,000, prosecutors have said; the indictment accounts for $4,500. The market owner was cooperating with an investigation by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service.
The first whiff of scandal came on March 26, 2009 when the FBI raided East St. Louis city hall and the offices of Mayor Alvin Parks. Parks, who has maintained his innocence and has not been charged with any wrongdoing, also serves as the city's liquor commissioner and appointed Hill to his position.
For more on the East St. Louis liquor scandal, read our feature story: Last Call?: East St. Louis nightclubs under siege