CHICAGO – Two councilors – one current and one former – were indicted by the government on Thursday. But Chicagoans know this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to city councils and corruption in Chicago.
Chicago is routinely named the most corrupt city in the United States, according to a UIC study. Since 1973, 30 city councilors have been convicted of corruption.
And a lot has happened since 2019.
Here is a list of current and former councilors who have been indicted, ambushed, implicated, charged with a crime, or convicted of corruption by the government since 2019:
Recognition: Colin Boyle / Block Club Chicago Ald. Ed Burke, 14th, at a city council meeting in February 2020.
In January 2019, the government calculated the current Ald. Ed Burke (14th) – the longest-serving councilor in Chicago history and then chairman of the powerful finance committee – with attempted blackmail.
Burke, 75, when he was charged, allegedly tried to direct real estate tax work to his law firm by holding remodeling permits and a Burger King entry permit in his Southwest Side community. His back and forth with the company’s workers was taped by the government, which, according to a federal complaint, also carried out physical surveillance and received help from the fast food company’s staff.
The complaint also alleges that Burke asked Burger King executives to donate campaign money to Toni Preckwinkle, who is running for another term as President of the Cook County Board.
Burke, who has served on the city council for more than 50 years, pleaded not guilty to the corruption allegations and denied wrongdoing.
Recognition: Colin Boyle / Block Club Chicago Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson, 11th, at a city council meeting in February 2020.
Patrick Daley Thompson
On Thursday the government indicted the current Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson, 11th, with income tax fraud and false statements to regulators.
The 51-year-old Bridgeport City Councilor is the nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley and the grandson of former Mayor Richard J. Daley.
The charges came after an investigation by the Chicago Sun-Times found that Thompson bought a Michigan summer home on a secret loan from a small Bridgeport bank that federal regulators later closed.
According to the charges, Thompson received $ 219,000 in loans from Washington Federal between 2011 and 2014 before being elected to the city council in 2015. He only made one payment before stopping payments. And he didn’t pay interest on the money he received, according to the indictment.
The bank closed in 2017 just two weeks after Bank President John F. Gembara was found dead in the Park Ridge home of a bank client and a friend. The death was classified as suicide.
After the shutdown, regulators attempted to collect $ 66 million in outstanding loans that Washington Federal had granted, including the money loaned to Thompson. In 2018, the city council told regulators it only owed $ 110,000, which the prosecution says it doesn’t.
Thompson is also accused of filing false income tax returns for five years. The indictment said he paid interest on the loan when he failed to do so.
If convicted, Thompson could face a maximum of 30 years in prison.
Thompson, who was elected 11th district Alderman in 2016 and re-elected in 2019, has denied any wrongdoing.
“First, my conscience is clear. I have not committed a crime. I am innocent and I will prove it in court, ”he said.
Recognition: Ted Cox / DNAinfoFormer Ald. Ricardo Muñoz led the 22nd parish from 1993 to 2019. He did not seek re-election that year.
On Thursday, the government blamed the former Ald. Ricardo Muñoz (22nd) with wire fraud and money laundering.
Muñoz, 56, was accused of using money from a political action committee to pay for vacations, jewelry, tuition, and other personal perks.
Federal prosecutors claim Muñoz misused tens of thousands of dollars from the Progressive Caucus PAC between October 2016 and June 2020.
Muñoz allegedly took the money through cash withdrawals and debit card charges, or transferred it from the caucus accounts to another political account he controlled – citizens for Muñoz – and then to his personal checking account. He hid the alleged fraud by submitting false reports to the Illinois State Board of Elections and employees and contractors who work with the PAC.
Muñoz used the money to pay for a relative’s tuition and other personal expenses, including clothing, iPhones, sports and airline tickets, a car loan payment, aerial tours, skydiving trips, and other entertainment.
Muñoz, who served on the city council for more than 25 years until stepping down in 2019, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Former Ald. Danny Solis
In January 2019 then-Ald. Danny Solis (25th) was outed as a federal informant.
In January 2019, the Sun-Times revealed that Solis, then chairman of the powerful zoning committee, carried a wire for the government and recorded Burke over a two-year period. He was put under pressure after being confronted by the government about his alleged wrongdoing. The government claimed Solis received sex in massage parlors, erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, and campaign contributions in exchange for opening deals by the city council.
Then the Sun-Times received a federal affidavit stating that the FBI had clandestinely recorded then-Illinois House spokesman Michael Madigan trying to do business for his law firm by a developer brought in by Solis . Madigan has not been charged and has said the report says he will not be investigated.
Solis, who served in the 25th District for more than 25 years, ended his term in 2019. He has not been charged with a crime.
Recognition: Colin Boyle / Block Club ChicagoAld. Carrie Austin, 34, looks on as the Black Caucus assists Acting Fox County Attorney Kim Foxx on March 12, 2020.
In June 2019, the government raided the current Ald. Carrie Austin’s 34th Ward office.
It remains unclear what triggered the raid.
Austin, a city councilor who has served the Far South Side since 1994, has denied any wrongdoing. She was not charged with a crime.
Recognition: Mina Bloom / Block Club ChicagoAld. Proco Joe Moreno leaves the courthouse after being released from custody.
Proco ‘Joe’ Moreno
In May 2019 then-Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st) was arrested on charges of insurance fraud and obstruction of justice.
Police and prosecutors said Moreno had a woman he dated arrested in the luxury car he lent her after falsely reporting the car was stolen from his garage.
That year he was ousted from the city council.
Then, this January, Moreno was sent to jail after being charged with drunk driving on the Gold Coast, which broke his bond. Moreno, 48, slammed into eight parked cars on North Astor Street, police said.
He was released from prison but had to undergo substance treatment.
Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) at a court appearance.
In June 2019, the former Ald. Willie Cochran, 20, was sentenced to one year in prison after pleading guilty of federal fraud.
When pleading guilty, Cochran admitted he had deposited a check for $ 2,000 in a bank account he opened to fund charities in his South Side community and $ 489 in cash at an Indiana casino for had taken out his personal use
When Cochran was charged in 2017, prosecutors initially said he used $ 25,000 to support a gambling habit and $ 5,000 to pay his daughter’s tuition from a 20th community fund he set up to help children and others To help local residents. They also alleged Cochran shook off a lawyer for $ 1,500 and a local liquor store for $ 3,000 to help them on the ward, prosecutors said.
Cochran has been charged with 15 wire fraud, bribery and extortion charges. By pleading, he pleaded guilty to a single charge.
Cochran’s conviction removed him from the city council under state law.
Cochran, 66 years old at the time of his conviction and a former police officer, was the 30th Chicago city councilor convicted of corruption since 1973 and the third city councilor in the 20th ward to plead guilty after being charged with crime .
As Alderman, Cochran made $ 116,208 annually on top of his annual police pension of $ 60,280, records show.
Former Ald. Edward Vrdolyak
In 2019 the former Ald. Edward Vrdolyak, 10th, one of the most controversial councilors on the city council during nearly two decades of running in the 1970s and 1980s, pleaded guilty to obstructing an IRS investigation into a friend and fellow attorney.
Known as “Fast Eddie” during his council tenure, it was his second federal conviction in the past 10 years.
In 2010, he was convicted on a real estate kickback program and sentenced to 10 months in prison.
Vrdolyak was sentenced to 18 months in prison in December 2020 for his most recent conviction. However, this ruling has been put on hold as part of the coronavirus pandemic.
Former Ald. Michael R. Zalewski served in the 23rd department.
In May 2019, the government raided the former Ald’s house. Michael R. Zalewski, 23rd, a close ally of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, according to his attorney.
Zalewski, who served on the city council from 1995 to 2018, has not been charged with any criminal offense.
“Michael has been known as a hardworking straight shooter all his life. We don’t think this investigation will change his reputation, ”his lawyer told the Tribune at the time.
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