East St. Louis officials question where ousted public works director spent city funds

Tim Lockett is one of a few firings and resignations within East St. Louis government
The East St. Louis Public Works director was recently fired following questionable spending, according to the mayor.
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 6:56 PM CST
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EAST ST. LOUIS, Il. (KMOV) - The East St. Louis Public Works director was recently fired following questionable spending, according to the mayor.

East St. Louis Mayor Robert Eastern III told News 4 that public works director, Timothy Lockett Sr., was fired for signing off on certain contracts without seeking council approval. Eastern estimates that the contracts are worth around $250,000, dating to back to roughly 2021.

Eastern said the State of Illinois requires the city council to approve projects that cost more than $20,000. The City of East St. Louis requires projects costing more than $10,000 to go through council approval. Eastern said Lockett signed on many projects under $20,000 and at least one for $43,500 without council approval. Eastern said Lockett used emergency powers to approve some contracts.

“Because it was so egregious. You know, coming with different emergencies every day,” Eastern added. “Some of these contracts--right up under the threshold of $20,000. And they’ve been going towards the same three or four contractors. When there’s different people in different places, you tend not to find out about certain things.”

One of the contractors, Asel & Mires G.C., isn’t registered with the State of Illinois, according to the Illinois Secretary of State. The company is registered in Texas. Officials with the Illinois Secretary of State said businesses must be registered with the state in order to conduct business.

Asel & Mires G.C. has an address in Fairview Heights, Illinois. News 4 went to the address. A person living in the home said the address isn’t affiliated with the business.

One of the contracts the business had with the city required insulation and drywall work at 2020 State Street in East St. Louis. The mayor confirmed that the city owns the building. It appears the contracted work wasn’t performed in the building.

Michael Ray, the contractor, is the individual whose name is on contracts between the city and Asel & Mires G.C. During a phone call with News 4, Ray told News 4 the Fairview Heights address for the business is his mother’s home. He didn’t answer any more questions. He informed News 4 he would call back.

Lockett declined to speak to News 4.

The city has appointed an interim public works director while the search for a director is ongoing.

Lockett’s firing comes as East St. Louis Police Chief Kendall Perry retired controversially, and others who have been, reportedly, fired or resigned.