Farnham joins list of Illinois politicians sentenced to prison

  • Former state Rep. Keith Farnham arrives for sentencing at the Illinois Appellate Court Second District building Thursday in Elgin.

      Former state Rep. Keith Farnham arrives for sentencing at the Illinois Appellate Court Second District building Thursday in Elgin. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 3/19/2015 5:59 PM

Former state Rep. Keith Farnham's federal sentence Thursday puts him in a long line of state officials who have been sent to prison, though for a far different reason.

The Elgin Democrat's 8-year sentence on federal child pornography charges contrasts with the public corruption charges that have hit recent governors and lawmakers. Among former governors, Rod Blagojevich is in federal prison and George Ryan, in office from 1991 to 2003, Dan Walker, 1973-77, and Otto Kerner, 1961-68, served prison sentences.

 

A state lawmaker going to prison hasn't been particularly common in Illinois lately, though. Farnham is set to surrender by May 19.

Former state Sen. Bruce Farley, a Chicago Democrat, was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 1999 after he was paid $173,757 for a job in the Illinois treasurer's office he never showed up to.

The parade of public officials caught breaking the law can bolster Illinois' political reputation for misdeeds.

"They lose trust in the political structure and obviously that doesn't reflect positively on the system," Illinois Campaign for Political Reform Director Susan Garrett, a former state lawmaker from Lake Forest, said. "Unfortunately it happens and it may even happen and they don't get caught."

Former Democratic state Rep. Derrick Smith of Chicago was indicted on a charge of federal bribery in April 2012. Smith was scheduled for sentencing Tuesday, but it was canceled. He will face a status hearing March 20, a spokeswoman with the U.S. attorneys office.

In 2013 former state Rep. Connie Howard, a Democrat from Chicago, pleaded guilty to federal charges involving fraud. She has a tentative sentencing hearing date set for April 3.

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