Friday, May 29, 2009

Alderman Carothers Indicted and - Uh-oh. He Wore a Wire.

Alderman Isaac Carothers, who was indicted on Thursday along with developer Calvin Boender, wore a wire for a year:

"One of Mayor Daley's closest allies on the City Council has been wearing a wire and secretly recording 'public officials and real estate developers' for more than a year, a City Hall bombshell that was revealed in a federal court document Thursday.

Ald. Isaac 'Ike' Carothers (29th) was charged Thursday with fraud and bribery for allegedly accepting $40,000 in home improvements and other gifts from a politically connected developer, but he has been cooperating with the feds since April 2008, according to court papers."
As usual, there's a little more to it. From the DOJ press release:
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. [Emphasis added.]
If you've been hangin' with us on the stoop for awhile, you know the drill. For everybody else: see the DOJ Northern District of Illinois, Chicago Press Room 2009 for the press release and associated documents. (If you're falling behind on your indictment and press release reading, see also Chicago Press Room 2008.)

It will be interesting to see who turns up on this set of tapes, but for the moment we have the usual mind-bending web of connections and cohorts. Chicago Tribune reporters Jeff Coen, Todd Lighty and Dan Mihalopoulos summarize some of them:
The indictment also alleged that Carothers asked Boender to make campaign contributions to a relative who was running for Congress in 2004 and that Boender enlisted two donors to make contributions of $2,000 each on his behalf -- and then reimbursed them to evade federal donation limits. Carothers' aunt, Anita Rivkin-Carothers, ran unsuccessfully in 2004 against incumbent U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.).

Records show that Rivkin-Carothers' campaign received $4,000 from Boender and his wife as well as another $4,000 from a partner in the Galewood Yards deal, Robert Finnigan, and his wife.

Rivkin-Carothers, now a circuit judge in Cook County domestic violence court, and Finnigan did not return calls.
Two more tidbits from the Sun Times:
In the late 1990s, Rivkin-Carothers was attorney for Tina Olison, mother of Baby T -- the child who now lives with Ald. Edward Burke (14th) and his wife, Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke.

Carothers' father, former Ald. William Carothers (28th), went to prison in 1983 for extorting up to $32,500 in remodeling work for his ward office from the builders of Bethany Hospital.
So, that's our seasonal corruption scandal for the spring of 2009. And, as always, it's a lesson in family values . . . Chicago style.

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