Hospitalization delays start of ex-Illinois state senator's federal fraud trail

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The federal wire fraud and money laundering trial against William “Sam” McCann was delayed Monday after court officials learned that the former Illinois state senator was hospitalized over the weekend.

McCann, 54, who waged a third-party campaign for governor in 2018, faces seven counts of wire fraud and single counts of money laundering and tax evasion for allegedly converting hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to personal use. He was scheduled to stand trial Monday morning in U.S. District Court.

McCann is representing himself but has a so-called stand-by attorney, Jason Vincent of Springfield. Vincent told U.S. District Judge Colleen Lawless that McCann's wife, Vicki, reported driving Sam McCann to a hospital in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, on Saturday after he became ill and passed out.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Bass told Lawless at an afternoon hearing that he had subpoenaed the hospital for medical records, but later Monday said he had nothing new to report. McCann lives in Plainview, which is between Springfield and 52 miles (84 kilometers) northeast of St. Louis.

“We are all at this point speculating as to how he got where he is,” Lawless said. “What we do know is that he is in fact hospitalized. What we don't know is the basis for it, the expected plan of care or the expected discharge date.”

Bass said witnesses he planned to call had already been flown to Springfield and needed to leave by Wednesday, but he conceded there was little else Lawless could do but set another status hearing for Tuesday morning. The judge noted she would entertain discussion of Bass' request to revoke McCann's personal recognizance bond.

No one answered the phone in McCann's room at Missouri Baptist Medical Center. A message was left on his cellphone.

Since dismissing his attorneys in November and indicating his intention to defend himself, McCann has sought to postpone the trial to give him more time to prepare. In a Jan. 10 motion, he complained that there were 70,000 pages of evidence filed against him and he could not mount an adequate defense in the allotted time. Lawless denied the motion.

Bass noted that McCann has claimed health problems previously to seek delay. McCann asked for more time in late January to disclose the list of witnesses he expected to call because he “suffers from various medical ailments which have become particularly symptomatic over the past week.” He was ordered to supply medical proof. Subsequent unidentified documents were filed under seal.

Although Vicki McCann has not been charged with any crime, Bass told the court she was the treasurer of one or more of Sam McCann's campaign committees and claimed that she benefitted from her husband's fraud.

“The government doesn't credit anything Mr. McCann says or anything Mrs. McCann says,” Bass said. “We want to know when he was admitted, when he's expected to be discharged and his true medical condition.”

McCann owned two construction companies when he was elected to the state Senate in 2010. The Republican was re-elected twice and in 2018, waged a third-party campaign for governor, getting 4% of the vote and finishing behind winning Democrat J.B. Pritzker and then-incumbent GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner.

A February 2021 indictment laid out McCann's alleged schemes to convert campaign contributions to personal use.

He allegedly used more than $60,000 in campaign funds to buy a 2017 Ford Expedition and a 2018 Ford F-250 pickup, then improperly reimbursed himself for mileage on the truck.

In one alleged setup that netted him $77,800 in campaign money, McCann purchased a recreational vehicle and trailer. He advertised them for rent through an Ohio-based company, then leased the vehicles from himself.

Officials maintain he used a payroll service to mask his receipt of $187,000 in money from his governor committee for work he didn't do and took another $50,000 to pay personal credit card bills.