Monday, August 8, 2005

Corruption Charges in Chicago

When the conversation turns to corruption, Chicago is frequently near the top of the list ("vote early and often" and all that), and two recent indictments carry on the tradition.  In an indictment filed Aug. 3, a former trustee for the Illinois Teacher's Retirement System and two Chicago attorneys were charged with seeking kickbacks from investment firms seeking to manage money on behalf of the system.  According to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois (here), one attorney allegedly said to an investment firm from which an $850,000 kickback was sought, "This is how things are done in Chicago." 

In the second indictment, filed on Aug. 4, the former Director of Natural Resources for the Chicago Park District "allegedly received payments totaling approximately $123,800 and free vacations in Michigan, Wisconsin, Utah and Illinois, computers, a bicycle, a spa gift certificate and tickets to sporting events for herself, her family, and friends in exchange for using her influence to recommend contracts, assign work and approve invoices for the vendor, James Michael, Inc., the Mundelein landscaping company," according to the USAO press release (here).  Two officers of the landscape company are also charged in the indictment, and the company received over $8 million in contracts from the Park District over four years. (ph)

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