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Crooked pol makes Chicago graft history

Chicago alderman Ambrosio Medrano pleaded guilty to bribery this week, the third time he’s gone down for graft. Even in the Windy City, that’s an amazing record of sleaze.

After his first conviction Medrano was booted out of office and thrown in prison. But it wasn’t enough to scare him straight. He racked up two more convictions this year.

A prosecutor said Medrano was heard on tapes ‘thanking God for giving him the corrupt opportunity.’

Alderman Medrano first pleaded guilty in 1996, the Chicago Tribune said, when he admitted taking $31,000 in bribes. He then spent 30 months in prison.

The paper said,

In June [this year], he was convicted of conspiring to bribe a Los Angeles County official to rig a prescription drug contract. That earned him the distinction of being the first Chicago City Council alum convicted in two separate corruption cases. His guilty plea to wire fraud Tuesday sealed the three-peat.

Medrano now faces up to five years in prison for his second conviction, and prosecutors may ask for 20 years for the third strke.

‘Medrano’s attorney thinks two years would be more like it,’ the Chicago Tribune said.

                                                             *     *     *

In a post a year ago about Chicago, we said the conviction rate of aldermen for corruption is nearly a third, with 31 out of 100 office holders convicted since 1973.

Make that 33.

William Beavers, a former alderman from the 7th Ward, was sentenced Wednesday to six months in prison for failing to pay taxes on campaign money he used for gambling and personal expenses, the Chicago Tribune said.

And Sandi Jackson, another 7th Ward alderman until her guilty plea in February, was sentenced to a year in prison last month for filing false tax returns. (Her husband, Jesse Jackson Jr., pleaded guilty to wire and mail fraud; he was sentenced last month to 30 months in federal prison.)

It’s not just Chicago’s 7th Ward that has seen multiple convictions. There are also the 13th, 20th, 23rd, 29th and 31st wards.

State-wide, governors of Illinois have also established a record that will be hard to beat. Four of the last nine have gone to prison for corruption, including most recently Rod Blagojevich, now serving 14 years for trying to sell or trade Barack Obama’s old Senate seat.

Playright David Mamet once said of his home town, ‘In Chicago, we love our crooks.’ That must be true. The voters there seem intent on electing an unending parade of them.

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Richard L. Cassin is the Publisher and Editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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