Trial of former chief accused of returning felon's gun begins
The former police chief who federal prosecutors said took a bribe to give a felon back his gun will begin trial today in federal court.
Former East St. Louis Police Chief Ronald Matthews is also charged with lying to federal agents about his dealings with the gun.
Jurors were selected last week for Matthews' trial and will consider the perjury and obstruction of justice charges against him. U.S. District Chief Judge G. Patrick Murphy will oversee the case.
In late January a corruption task force arrested Matthews for his role in giving back a handgun to convicted felon Ayoub "Dave" Qattoum. Qattoum was a local businessman who was allowed to carry a gun and act as an auxiliary police officer despite a felony conviction.
Qattoum was arrested on Aug. 7, 2004, by East St. Louis police after a dispute at a traffic stop. The officers seized a .38-caliber handgun from Qattoum.
Qattoum later called Matthews, who was then police chief, to make sure he would not be charged. He repeatedly asked for the return of his gun, prosecutors have said.
Matthews, 56, contacted Qattoum through his secretary, Ja'nerra Carson-Slaughter, offering the return of the gun for $1,500, according to charges. Matthews later refused to turn over the gun to federal immigration agents.
Qattoum pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to obstruct justice and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon. He was sentenced to one year, nine months in prison.
He is a Jordanian citizen, so he faces deportation after his sentence because of a 1993 felony conviction for trafficking counterfeit goods in Wisconsin.
Carson-Slaughter pleaded guilty to conspiring to obstruct justice for taking the gun from Matthews' desk drawer to return to Qattoum and receiving the gun from Deputy Police Chief Rudy McIntosh on Qattoum's behalf. She has not yet been sentenced.
McIntosh is expected to be called as a witness against Matthews at the trial. The trial is expected to last for about a week.