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This just in… Alderman Carothers indicted on fraud and bribery charges

Thursday, May 28, 2009

*** Click here to read the indictment. Click here to read the press release. ***

* 10:53 am - From the Tribune

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago said it will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. today to announce public corruption charges. Sources say it is expected to be an indictment of an elected official.

No speculation in comments of any kind, please. [Comments have been opened, but be very careful.] We’ll all know soon enough.

* From the US Attorney’s office…

Please be advised that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago plans to issue two press releases this afternoon regarding two separate criminal cases — one involving public corruption, and the other involving racketeering activity, including armed robberies, arson and illegal gambling — and will hold a press conference at 2:00 p.m. today, Thursday May 28, 2009, in the U.S. Attorney’s Press Conference room…

Copies of the criminal charges and the press releases will be distributed via email this afternoon before the press conference and hard copies will also be available in the press conference room, which will open to members of the media at 1:00 p.m.

There will be no court appearances today in connection with either of these matters.

* You might want to keep your eye on the Twitter accounts of the two newspaper reporters who cover the federal courts…

* Natasha Korecki (Sun-Times)
* Jeff Coen (Tribune)

* We’ll have live video coverage of the 2 o’clock press conference via CBS2. Click here at 2 o’clock

*** 11:24 am *** From Natasha Korecki’s Twitter page

charges to be announced against a chicago alderman later today

*** 11:27 am *** Sun-Times says it’s Ike Carothers…

Federal authorities later today plan to announce charges against Ald. Ike Carrothers (29th), the chairman of the City Council’s police and fire committee, sources said.

Background

In 2007 the office of the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald subpoenaed Carothers demanding documents including seven years worth of aldermanic expense records; 29th Ward zoning changes; ordinances introduced by Carothers, and correspondence between Carothers and the mayor’s office regarding zoning changes. The subpoena further demanded information on comments made and votes taken by Carothers since January 2001 before two City Council committees.

*** 11:37 am *** Word around the federal building is that Ald. Carothers allegedly took cash for a zoning change. We’ll know more at 2 o’clock.

*** 1:51 pm *** From the US Attorney’s office…

Chicago Ald. Isaac S. Carothers (29th Ward) and a real estate developer who sought to transform a 50-acre former rail yard and industrial site on the city’s west side into a residential and commercial neighborhood, were indicted today on federal fraud and bribery charges, announced Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

The developer, Calvin Boender, allegedly paid for approximately $40,000 in home improvements to Carothers’ residence and provided him with meals and tickets to professional sporting events, which Carothers allegedly illegally accepted, in exchange for Carothers’ official acts supporting successful zoning changes for Galewood Yards, which was the largest undeveloped tract of land within the city limits.

Approximately $6 million more was made from the sale of 25 acres of the land than would have been realized without the zoning changes, and Boender allegedly personally profited half of that amount, or approximately $3 million, according to an 11-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury today.

*** Click here to read the indictment. Click here to read the press release. ***

* From the indictment

It was further part of the scheme that in order to disguise and conceal the extent of Grand Central Center’s campaign contributions to defendant CAROTHERS, defendant BOENDER directed an employee of Grand Central Center to make a $1,500 donation to the New 29th Ward Democratic Organization and reimbursed that employee for that contribution.

It was further part of the scheme that when defendant CAROTHERS asked defendant BOENDER for his financial support of Candidate A’s campaign, BOENDER, in order to curry favor with defendant CAROTHERS, made campaign contributions to Candidate A in excess of the maximum allowed under federal election law. In order to disguise and conceal the fact that he was making campaign contributions to Candidate A in excess of the maximum allowed under federal election allow, BOENDER directed at least two individuals to make $2,000 donations to Candidate A and reimbursed those individuals for those donations.

But passing a campaign finance reform law will solve all our problems, right?

- Posted by Rich Miller        


48 Comments
  1. - anon - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 11:36 am:

    I am beginning to believe that politics is synonomous with corruption. Also, politics is synonomous with government. Its a sad day when you throw up your hands and say that this is just how it is. sad day.


  2. - Dan - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 11:37 am:

    I think it’s been two years since an alderman was indicted, so I guess we were due.


  3. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 11:40 am:

    I kind of like guys like him who unapologetically defend the patronage system and embrace the Chicago way, however, it did paint a target on his broad back that seems easy to hit.


  4. - FED up - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 11:42 am:

    As chairman of the police committee he insured merit promotions for his brother to detective then to sgt and then to lt. Carrothers does love patronage.


  5. - siriusly - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 11:46 am:

    The Chicago City Council has had more members indicted and convicted than the General Assembly has, ever. Where is Patrick Collins on that one?

    2 Governors indicted, one in jail, one on his way. A legislative leader who stood up to the corruptovich is the target of Collins’ “reform” commission. Yeah, that makes sense.

    I think the corruption and ineptitude at the City and Cook County levels are what is feeding this public “revolt” described by Andy Shaw yesterday, not the political and rule-making powers of the Speaker.


  6. - FED up - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 11:51 am:

    Carothers,
    Is one of Daleys close allies and was an attack dog for the Daley when Jessie jr was thinking about running for mayor. I doubt Carothers has anything good on the Daley though. Hopefully this is just the start of another round of indictments


  7. - lake county democrat - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 12:05 pm:

    But patronage — we all know that’s a thing of the past and that’s why, as reported today in the Sun-Times, we need to shut down the monitor’s office. Thanks Aldermen.


  8. - Confused - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 12:12 pm:

    Rich, please help me understand something. First you are telling commenters not to speculate, now you are fueling the speculation with your updates to this post. Sounds like you’d make a great politician with the flip-flopping here ;)


  9. - Steve - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 12:14 pm:

    Carothers is also Executive Vice- Chairman of the Cook County Democratic party. Ike’s dad William was also an Alderman that went on to be a convicted felon.

    http://nalert.blogspot.com/2009/05/another-chicago-alderman-to-be-indicted.html


  10. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 12:22 pm:

    An alderman? It’s been done.


  11. - FED up - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 12:30 pm:

    His sister was just appointed as a judge too. Carothers has deep roots in this city.


  12. - Steve - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 12:40 pm:

    The Cook County Democratic party has a certain sense of style.


  13. - Anonymous45 - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 12:51 pm:

    His relative who is a judge is Anita Rivkin-Carrothers, I think it’s his sister-in-law…


  14. - dan l - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 12:51 pm:

    I find these accusations to be without base. Taking cash for a zoning change? That’s unheard of here in Chicago. This sounds very Springfield to me.


  15. - West Sider - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 12:58 pm:

    The real story here is the impact such an indictment will have upon Don Harmon and the Democratic Party of Oak Park. Harmon was only elected in 2002 by selling his soul to Carrothers. Ron Serpico would have won this seat but for Saint Donald’s dancing with the devil of the 29th ward. Harmon’s organization is so deeply intertwined with the 29th ward that this will have a significant impact west of Austin Boulevard. Deborah Graham is also Carrothers’ sponsee, so she may be vulnerable as well. You are only as good and trustworthy as the people who brought you to the dance.


  16. - Ghost - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 1:02 pm:

    Notice that the Feds were not blocked from doing this because of a lack of applicapble law or the need for refomrs to make the conduct illegal.

    I would also bet that when we get the details, we will see that no amount of reform would have stopped the conduct.

    its almots like cleaning up governmet really just needs more enforcement/enforcers. This would argue in favor of expanding the AG’s powers. Or expand auditor hollands powers and give him criminal investgators.

    Disband the inspector general offices and put the money into hollands office.


  17. - Yknot - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 1:05 pm:

    With the entire herd of dirty aldermen indicted over the decades, name one who himself arrested a briber or who went undercover to expose corruption?


  18. - John Doe - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 1:10 pm:

    I often wonder if there is a pattern to these indictments by Mr. Fitzgerald? Are the indictments purely random whereby Patrick Fitzgerald simply goes after another Chicago political person wherever “the path happens to take him”? Or. is there some methodology as to who he goes after and where he heads next in order to work up “the Chicago food chain”?

    I guess that I will just have to wait and hope that someday Mr. Fitzgerald writes a book about his “Baptism by Chicago Fire”.


  19. - Rich Miller - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 1:12 pm:

    ===You are only as good and trustworthy as the people who brought you to the dance. ===

    Tell that to Harry Truman.


  20. - fedup dem - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 1:17 pm:

    John Doe, I have to assume that these indictments occur when the US Attorney has obtained enough evidence to get an indictment from the Grand Jury, evidence that will likely hold up at trial and produce a conviction.


  21. - West Sider - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 1:25 pm:

    “===You are only as good and trustworthy as the people who brought you to the dance. ===

    Tell that to Harry Truman.”

    You can also tell that to Chester Arthur and Warren Harding.


  22. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 1:28 pm:

    I too wonder how things like this work. Do the feds give people time to cooperate before an indictment? Why else do you here of massive investigations like the one supposedly going on at O’Hare and them all goes quiet? Do targets start talking? What goes on in the halls of justice? Does this indictment mean Ike wouldn’t spill the beans?


  23. - anon - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 1:30 pm:

    the US Atty promised a press release at 1pm. Rich, was the press release emailed to you?


  24. - Rich Miller - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 1:32 pm:

    The room is open at 1 o’clock. Read it again. He never said there’d be a release at one.


  25. - anon - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 1:37 pm:

    I stand corrected. It will be emailed to you prior to the 2pm press conference.


  26. - Obamarama - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 1:48 pm:

    Does anyone know where to find a live stream of the press conference?


  27. - Rich Miller - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 1:54 pm:

    Obamarama, I already have a link to a live stream from CBS2 posted up above.


  28. - Obamarama - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 1:58 pm:

    My fault; thanks, Rich.


  29. - Stu - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 2:07 pm:

    Does anyone have Caruther’s family tree handy? Who is the relative who was US Rep candidate in 2004?


  30. - Legaleagle - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 2:11 pm:

    Chicago officials taking bribes for zoning changes is nothing new. Nor is the other major indictment returned today: charging crooked cops, mobsters, and motorcycle gangs with various crimes including the distribution of those video poker and slot machines that the House just legalized. Anyone who thinks that legalizing and ‘regulating’ those machines will stop organized crime from distributing them should snuggle back into the cabbage patch where they must live!


  31. - anon - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 2:14 pm:

    From the Illinois state board of elections.

    GENERAL PRIMARY - 3/16/2004
    7TH CONGRESS
    COUNTY DAVIS
    DEMOCRATIC RIVKIN-CAROTHERS
    DEMOCRATIC DALLAS
    DEMOCRATIC DAVIS-FAIRMAN


  32. - Lakefront Liberal - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 2:27 pm:

    Rich, your comment at the end of this story implies that you think this shows that contribution limits don’t have any effect, but I would argue that is shows the opposite. If there were no limits at the federal level they could have just given Candidate A as much as they wanted, but because there was a limit they had to try to launder the money through others, and that became a crime they could be charge with. So yes, you are correct that it didn’t stop them from giving the money, but it did make the feds able to charge them with a crime for doing it. To me that is a similar to one of the arguements for making it difficult or illegal to have certain types of guns. Yes, criminals will still get them but if they are caught you now have a crime you can charge them with. If it isn’t illegal then all you can do is wring your hands and send them back on the street — or in this case back on the campaign trail.

    Clearly in this case there are also other things they are charged with, but if the federal contribution limits weren’t there then their campaing giving would just be fodder for editorials instead of another nail in their criminal case.

    Though just for the record I do think that contribution limits are only one very minor improvement to the system — but an improvement none the less.


  33. - Muskrat - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 2:30 pm:

    Where are the wiretaps? The profanity? the delusions of grandeur? The tabloid-friendly hairdos? This is not Fitzgerald’s best work.


  34. - scoot - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 2:34 pm:

    Your right we don’t any reform in Chicago…they lead by example there.


  35. - babs - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 2:55 pm:

    well, this sure makes term-limits a non-issue


  36. - Captain America - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 3:16 pm:

    Alderman Carrothers unabashedly been an old school poitician.
    No campaign finace law would eliminate this type of blatant corruption.
    I congrtualte Fits on another notch in his belt, but it’s the same old, same old story. When will the rascals ont eh City Council ever learn. It’s hard for me to figure out how these guys rationalize that they won’t get caught..


  37. - Captain America - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 3:19 pm:

    Sorry for my multiple typos on the previous post.


  38. - Steve - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 3:40 pm:

    Contribution limits aren’t going to stop the Ike Carothers of the world. As long voters don’t mind corrupt politicians in Chicago, the city will be corrupt. More than a few people have benefited from corrupt Aldermen over the years. Chicago voters need to look in the mirror, they are the enablers of corruption in public office.


  39. - siriusly - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 3:57 pm:

    Muskrat is right. Of course I am following this week’s edition of Fitzgerald Live, it’s clearly not as juicy as other episodes. If he wants to stay on top of the ratings game, he is going to have to keep giving us profanity filled wire taps. He can’t honestly expect us to like this indictment just based on the law breaking and the bribe taking. BORRR IINNG.


  40. - Ghost - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 4:18 pm:

    CA don’t appologize for typos! It sets a bad precedent for the rest of us (me).


  41. - phocion - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 4:25 pm:

    “Pigs get fed…”


  42. - Quinn T. Sential - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 4:58 pm:

    When are they going to get around to to the 25th Ward? When they untangle that web it will make Carothers look more like Larry Bloom.


  43. - this old hack - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 5:02 pm:

    =But passing a campaign finance reform law will solve all our problems, right?=

    of course it will, Rich! David Morrison and Anton Valukas are absolutely right! Don’t you see? this latest reform bill by Harmon is just the politicians protecting themselves again! And now the Governor saying “it is a good start”?

    Real reformers will urge a NO vote. That way, us real reformers can run back to the Tribune and target those who voted for this NONSENSE reform! What legislator wants to be attacked for that?

    After it is soundly defeated, we can go back and get real reform AFTER the 2010 elections when we get all OUR people to the polls and kick out the current bunch!

    Power to the People!


  44. - Amy - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 5:33 pm:

    ike is very personable and very tied to the old ways. it’s sad that he got caught up in this, let himself get greedy, because he is a nice person to talk to. but the apple did not fall far from the tree. sad. and shame on him for taking taxpayers for a bad ride.


  45. - Anon - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 5:40 pm:

    Speaking of corruption, the Illinois Supreme Court took the George Ryan pension case today.


  46. - A Citizen - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 5:58 pm:

    The best - if not only - way to rid Illinois of corruption is to come up with a new definition . . . one not nearly as harsh and unforgiving.


  47. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 7:51 pm:

    T.I.C. This is Chicago. anin


  48. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 28, 09 @ 7:51 pm:

    T.I.C. This is Chicago.


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