CHANNAHON, Ill. (CBS) — Channahon Mayor Joe Cook was sentenced to two years’ probation and six months’ home detention Tuesday for failing to file tax returns.
Mayor since 2003, Cook faced six misdemeanor charges alleging he didn’t pay federal income taxes between 2005 and 2008. During that time he earned $290,000 as mayor, as a field engineer for Will County and from his consulting business.READ MORE: Chicago Police Restrict Time Off For Officers; Unclear If Order Is Related To Battle Between City Hall, FOP Over COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate
Cook pleaded guilty in October to two of those counts, admitting he didn’t file a personal tax return for 2005 and a corporate return for 2007.
He faced up to two years in prison and now is supposed to pay $14,752 in restitution, the Sun-Times Media Wire reports. Prosecutors had asked for Cook to be sentenced to up to a year in prison.
Cook’s federal defender argued for probation in the misdemeanor case, saying the mayor has no criminal background that would warrant prison time.
More importantly, Candace R. Jackson told U.S. District Judge Morton Denlow, Cook is the sole caretaker for his blind, cancer-stricken father; his wheelchair-bound arthritic mother; a sister with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a brother with Down’s Syndrome.
“With Mr. Cook’s asthma, knee and back pain, sleep disorder, open surgical wound, and deteriorating teeth — all of which have been compounded by years without health insurance ¬— Mr. Cook is not the piucture of health,” she wrote in a brief. “But he currently is the strongest, most able member of his family and the only one who can assist everyone else.”
Denlow agreed with Cook’s attorney that the first-time misdemeanor offense did not warrant a prison sentence. And Cook’s family is “the factor most compelling to me.”READ MORE: Chicago Weather: A Quiet And Cool Fall Weekend
“To remove him from the household through incarceration — I believe would be in a sense a crime to the family — which I’m not prepared to impose on the family,” the judge continued.
Cook’s income tax charges came a week after the city of Chicago and the Regional Transportation Authority filed lawsuits against the village of Channahon and the city of Kankakee, alleging the towns provided companies with incentives to set up “sham shop” sales offices in the those towns to avoid paying higher sales taxes in Chicago and Cook County.
“I think they’re operating within the limits of the law,” he said at the time.
Since then, a number of Cook County suburbs have joined the lawsuit.
He has stepped down from his post as board president at the Will County Governmental League, citing family reasons.
Cook apologized to his community, his family, and his girlfriend sitting in court.
“My parents taught me a lesson a long time ago that I’ve forgotten – shirking your responsibilities is a selfish act,” he told the judge. “This will never happen again.”MORE NEWS: Amid Critical CPS School Bus Driver Shortage, One Company Uses Halloween Event As Recruiting Tool
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.