Sandwich mayor, and former chief-of-police, Rick Olson was one of nine charged with solicitation of a sexual act as result of a prostitution sting this weekend. Olson’s resignation was formally announced at the Sandwich City Council meeting Monday night.
The joint investigation by the LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office, TRIDENT Drug Task Force and local law enforcement dates all the way back to December 2016, according to a release issued May 10.
LaSalle County court records show the alleged incident involving Olson took place on March 14.
Conducted over three dates beginning in 2016, the investigation focused on the relationship between prostitution and illegal drug abuse, as well as the crime connected to drugs.
“Agents spoke with several self-admitted drug-addicted women during the recent drug investigations and learned that the Illinois Valley’s problem with prostitution is very closely tied to the growing drug addiction crisis,” the report states.
It also acknowledges that some of the women working in the sex trade in the area are not doing so by choice, but due to struggles with drug addiction.
One of the other men charged was James Schaefer, an executive at Illinois Valley Community Hospital in Peru.
Further investigations are still possible. Olson is set to appear in court in Ottawa on May 31, facing a class a misdemeanor. He was first elected mayor in 2013; prior to his time in office, Olson served as police chief for 16 years before retiring in 2010.
For now, the council still has to fill Olson’s shoes as quickly as possible. Some, like Alderman Les Redden, are still processing everything that’s happened in the last week.
“He was a great leader; and I know a lot of people on social media have slammed him -- that’s unfortunate," he said. "We were good friends and he was a good colleague; it’s just unfortunate. Moving forward is going to be very difficult.”
The Sandwich City Council will appoint an acting mayor to fill the office until the next election in 2021. Sandwich Alderman Pete Dell said the council could likely fill the position from within if any alderman are interested.
“I guess it’s possible we could have a recommendation as early as next week or within a couple of weeks," said Dell. "Now as far as how quickly they can be sworn in, I’m not quite sure how that procedure works, but I would think this could be pretty short as long as we come to an agreement.”
One member of the community stood up to recommended First Ward Alderman Richard Robinson take over as acting mayor.