Pritzker responds to report convicted felon cashed in on state’s COVID-19 spending

WGN Investigates

Governor JB Pritzker responded Thursday after WGN Investigates revealed a convicted felon cashed in on the state’s Covid crisis, despite the state’s rules against doing business with felons.

John Thomas went to prison for defrauding suburban Riverdale on a marina project.

Prosecutors characterized him as a serial con man. Despite that, early last year, the state took control of the old Sherman Hospital facility in Elgin for use as a backup hospital.

Thomas received $4 million in federal funds for the short-term use of his space. Millions more were spent upgrading the facility, which never saw a single patient.

Thomas now has control of the hospital again – including all the upgrades paid for by taxpayers.

Thursday, Pritzker didn’t directly answer a question about whether a former felon should be in business with the state.

“Emergency officials from the state, and federal officials, helped us to identify locations that would be best for those alternative care sites,” he said.  “And you saw some of them getting built out. That was the case – there and others – where we took the properties and used them as we needed to do to make sure we weren’t going to overtax our health professionals or hospitals and ultimately a court ruled we needed to pay for the use of those sites.”

A Pritzker spokesperson told WGN the governor’s disaster proclamation means he didn’t have to obey the state’s ban on doing business with former felons.

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