More corruption in South Suburbs
Posted in the Dixmoor Forum
#1 Apr 18, 2014
The city Attorney at the time this happened should also be arrested. He did not protect the interest of the Village.
Feds arrest former mole in Rezko, Carothers cases
BY NATASHA KORECKI AND KIM JANSSEN Staff Reporters April 18, 2014
Federal authorities gave long-time government mole John Thomas a Good Friday surprise, arresting him at his home early Friday morning.
Thomas, who was a major player in the investigation into political fundraiser Tony Rezko as well as former Ald. Ike Carothers — including wearing a wire to record conversations — allegedly stole $370,000 from the village of Riverdale in tax increment financing funds connected to the development of Riverdale Marina.
A three-count indictment unsealed Friday alleges the real estate developer, 51, used the stolen taxpayers’ money to repay personal loans and debts, legal fees, rent and other personal expenses.
The money was meant to be used to renovate the Riverdale Marina, where Thomas’ business, Nosmo Kings LLC, kept an office.
But in 2012, Thomas created fake invoices for non-existent companies and for companies that never performed work at the marina to fraudulently obtain reimbursement from the village, the feds allege.
Thomas’ connections at the marina included several shady figures, the Sun-Times has previously reported. Thomas in 2012 purchased an $8,350 money order for Raghu Nayak — the convicted healthcare fraudster and political fundraiser who allegedly offered former Gov. Rod Blagojevich a $1.5 million bribe to appoint Jesse Jackson Jr. to the Senate — for “plumbing work” at the marina. Thomas allegedly owed Nayak, who does not appear to own a plumbing company,$17,000 in unpaid rent at the time.
And Regina Evans — the disgraced former Country Club Hills police chief who was convicted of state grant fraud and has been linked to other alleged scams — and her husband both worked at the marina, sources said.
Former Riverdale Mayor Deyon Dean, whose administration presided over the marina fiasco but also filed a lawsuit against Thomas in 2012 accusing him of fraud, welcomed Thomas’ indictment Friday.
“When you do inappropriate things, it comes back to haunt you,” he said.
“We tried to work with Mr. Thomas in good faith — he was a convicted felon, but he had purchased a business, and we thought we could move forward with him.”
Each of the three counts of wire fraud Thomas faces carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Wearing a gray fleece and jeans, Thomas pleaded not guilty during a brief appearance before U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel Friday afternoon.
At the hearing, prosecutors alleged Thomas’s wrongdoing went well beyond his actions at the marina, urging Zagel to keep Thomas locked up while he awaits trial.
Thomas has carried out five additional financial scams since the 2012 marina plot, including trying to pay his former lawyer’s bills with fake Babe Ruth baseballs he bought on eBay, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sunil Harjani said.
But Thomas’s new attorney, Lawrence Beaumont, said Thomas has been in negotiation with the government for months. He accused prosecutors of improperly trying to “send a message” to Thomas by attempting to keep him from his family over the Easter weekend.
Speaking outside court, he said Thomas had paid him with “money — trust me, I wasn’t paid with baseballs.”
Zagel said he was concerned that Thomas might try to take more money if he is freed on bail, but would rule whether Thomas can be released later Friday.
In the meantime he ordered court staff to check if all the phones and computers in Thomas’s downtown condo can be removed or monitored, to prevent Thomas from communicating with the outside world if he is allowed out under house arrest.
The hearing marked an unhappy return to court for Thomas, who in 2010 escaped prison time and instead received three years of probation in Chicago’s federal court for his role in a scheme tied to his days in New York.
#2 Apr 18, 2014
Does anyone know what Law Firm permitted this scandal to happen?
#3 Apr 18, 2014
Another pol’s spouse got money from Quinn’s anti-violence program
THU, 04/17/2014 - 12:37AM
SPRINGFIELD — The wife of a state lawmaker from the south suburbs made more than $137,000 in salary and benefits from Gov. Pat Quinn’s now-abolished Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, state records show.
That total for Jaclin Davis, wife of state Rep. Will Davis, D-Homewood, represented 11 percent of the anti-violence grant dollars her employer, Healthcare Consortium of Illinois, was allotted in 2011 and 2012 under Quinn’s program.
Davis was the organization’s program coordinator, which put her in charge of managing how the governor’s 2010 program was implemented in Thornton Township. More than $1.2 million in state funds were disbursed through her agency.
The Neighborhood Recovery Initiative was launched by Quinn in October 2010, less than a month before he narrowly defeated Republican Bill Brady in that year’s gubernatorial election.
Republicans have contended the program was a thinly disguised, taxpayer-funded, get-out-the-vote effort designed to boost Quinn’s election hopes when some polling had him running behind Brady. The governor has rejected that GOP claim, citing a surge in teen shootings as the basis for the program.
In February, Auditor General William Holland slammed the program as being hastily implemented and beset with “pervasive” mismanagement. Quinn’s administration signed contracts just weeks before the 2010 election and gave Chicago aldermen, rather than an agency under his direct control, authority to recommend which nonprofits would serve as pass-throughs for the massive program.
#4 Apr 18, 2014
#5 Apr 19, 2014
The Law Firm representing Riverdale during this, was no other than Odelson and Sterk. Any Municipality who did a TIF with their guidance should be put on fraud alert. Mr. Odelson is the Attorney who testified that John Stroger in a comatose state signed an Affidavit. And than he went on to become in house attorney for Todd Stroger. Quid pro quo.
#6 Apr 19, 2014
NATASHA KORECKI AND KIM JANSSEN
@NATASHAKORECKI | EMAIL
Smooth-talking felon John Thomas once said the thing he loved about Chicago was, it was “the most forgiving” place for a convicted crook.
He’d better hope so.
The 51-year-old real estate developer — who got a second chance at life and dodged a prison term by wearing a wire against disgraced political fundraiser Tony Rezko as well as former Ald. Ike Carothers — has been up to his old tricks, federal prosecutors say.
Arrested at dawn on Good Friday at his downtown condo, Thomas stole $370,000 from the south suburban village of Riverdale that was meant for the development of Riverdale Marina, a federal indictment alleges.
But that was just the beginning of Thomas’s latest scams, according to prosecutors who painted him as a compulsive con artist who recently even tried to rip off his former attorney by paying him with fake Babe Ruth baseballs.
Thomas — who pleaded not guilty to the Riverdale plot Friday — had been convicted of a billboard business fraud in New York, but was spared prison time in 2010 after he cooperated with the government for more than a decade, playing a key role in bringing down Rezko.
Despite his shady past, and a string of controversial failed real estate deals, he was able in February 2012 to convince the Riverdale Village Board that he was the man to redevelop the blighted Riverdale Marina with the help of $900,000 in tax-increment financing funds.
In a passionate speech, he vowed no crime would occur on his watch, choking up as he told residents:“I have a 5-year-old daughter and I want my daughter to come here. I want my family to come here.”
Days after securing the funds, he was lining his pockets, the indictment unsealed Friday alleges. A cast of politically-connected felons also benefitted, sources say.
Thomas’s landlord Raghu Nayak — the convicted healthcare fraudster and political fundraiser who allegedly offered former Gov. Rod Blagojevich a $1.5 million bribe to appoint Jesse Jackson Jr. to the Senate — allegedly got $8,250 in rent he was owed, disguised as payment for “plumbing work” at the marina that he never did.
And Regina Evans — the former Country Club Hills Police Chief, convicted of state grant fraud and linked to several other scams — and her husband both got jobs at the marina, sources say.
Using fake invoices, Thomas stole more than a third of the TIF money he had access to, using it to pay legal fees, personal loans, and other personal expenses including his rent, the feds allege.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sunil Harjani on Friday urged U.S. District Judge James Zagel to keep Thomas locked up, calling him a “threat to the public” who perpetrated five more scams even after he was first confronted by the government about the marina. Those scams included filing false documents to obtain loans, and the Babe Ruth baseball swindle, Harjani alleged.
But Thomas’s current attorney, Larry Beaumont, said Thomas had been “negotiating” with prosecutors for months without attempting to flee or cover his tracks.
And Zagel eventually allowed Thomas to go home on bond, once Thomas turned over his cell phone and laptop and vowed to have no contact with the outside world while under around-the-clock house arrest.
Thomas’s wife, who vouched for him, told the judge she’d have “no problem” reporting him if he violates the terms of his bond.
News of Thomas’s arrest was welcomed by Riverside Mayor Lawrence L. Jackson, who alleged his predecessors had “full knowledge of Mr. Thomas’ background and analysis of his financial affairs,(but) made irresponsible decisions to advance their own personal interest.”
Former Mayor Deyon Dean, whose administration presided over the marina fiasco but also sued Thomas in 2012, accusing him of fraud, denied that.“We tried to work with Mr. Thomas in good faith,” he said.“He was a convicted felon, but he had purchased a business, and we thought we could move forward with him.”
#7 Apr 19, 2014
The usually silver-tongued Thomas — who faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on each of three counts of wire fraud — had little to say for himself as he left court Friday, calling the case against him “bulls---.”
But in a 2008 interview with the Sun-Times, Thomas said his life had become “frantic” as he amassed hundreds of hours of recorded conversations for federal investigators while trying to maintain his real estate business.
For a time, Thomas helped investigators build a record of repeat visits by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich to the old offices of Rezko and former business partner Daniel Mahru’s Rezmar Corp.
Thomas said that he was grateful that hard work had allowed him to rebuild his name in Chicago.
During that interview, he handed a reporter his business card. Written on the back, in eight languages, were the words:“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”
#8 Apr 19, 2014
Throw them all in jail and throw away the keys.
#9 Apr 19, 2014
This is what we get when people vote the 'straight ticket' instead of doing some research on candidates.
#10 Apr 19, 2014
#11 Apr 20, 2014
The current elected officials must to be voted out of office to end self interest.
#12 Apr 21, 2014
Privacy rights essential to a free society
In an April 6 letter to the editor, Jeff Markarian, suggested that only people with something to hide would be worried about government surveillance. This cliché falsely conflates the defense of personal rights with being suspect. In the United States there should be nothing suspicious about demanding that the government respect the Fourth Amendment to show probable cause and obtain specific warrants before investigations.
In addition to being not suspicious, privacy is essential to freedom because it guarantees our security, happiness and ability to dissent. Privacy helps secure us from fraud and malicious influence such as blackmail. This is of growing importance as we confront a variety of threats from identity theft to industrial espionage. Unfortunately the government, by violating our privacy, has undermined our security by putting vulnerabilities into encryption protocols and computer hardware. This now leaves us open to political abuse, enemy intelligence operations and cyber crime.
Privacy is important to most of us because we need it to be truly ourselves. We can't do so if we're under the constant scrutiny of unaccountable bureaucrats who can freely search NSA databases to misconstrue or embarrass us with the intimate details of our lives. Under this pervasive surveillance many of us will anxiously self-censor and avoid controversial people and opinions.
This isn't freedom. All of this has a chilling effect on journalists, whistle-blowers, activists and others who would represent the common good. Without privacy we cannot dissent against the status quo. Protests can and will be thwarted, reputations ruined and political meetings discouraged. Not only is this possible with current warrantless domestic surveillance programs, it is inevitable as the sorry histories of our intelligence agencies can show. If the British crown had such technology in the 1770s, we'd now barely remember the Founding Fathers as terrorists hanged for treason.
#13 Apr 21, 2014
There is no money for infrastructure statewide because the money went into the pockets of politicians and cronies in Blue Island and across the state of Illinois.
#14 Apr 22, 2014
All of These tax dollars MUST be RETURNED.
#15 Apr 23, 2014
Ex-government mole rips suburb for accusing him of TIF scam
A convicted fraudster accused of stealing $370,000 that was meant to be used to redevelop south suburban Riverdale’s marina accused the village of trying to “ruin my life” and said the town’s taxpayers can keep the marina.
Real estate developer John Thomas — a former government mole who dodged prison for a big time billboard scam by helping bring down political fund-raiser Tony Rezko — delivered the angry rant outside court Wednesday afternoon, just moments after prosecutors accused him of violating the terms of his bail.
Arrested on Friday, Thomas, 51, allegedly took tax increment financing that was earmarked for the redevelopment of Riverdale’s blighted marina and used it for personal expenses, including his rent at a fancy downtown condo.
But on Wednesday he turned his fire on the village, calling the case against him “b-------” and accusing village officials who sued him before the criminal charges were filed last week of trying to make his life hell.
“If they want the marina, they can have it!” he boomed.
Prosecutors have painted Thomas as an incorrigible conman who even tried to rip off his own attorney by paying him with fake Babe Ruth baseballs.
And in allowing Thomas to go home under house arrest last week, U.S. District Judge James Zagel last week placed tight restrictions on Thomas to protect the public from further scams, including banning Thomas from making phone calls and from using the Internet.
But prosecutor Sunil Harjani said Wednesday that since then, Thomas has used his wife’s phone to make at least two phone calls, and that, even though Thomas had turned over his computer to the government, he was still using the Internet connection on his Google TV to send text messages and emails.
Thomas also offered the deeds to two properties he doesn’t own as security for his bond, Harjani alleged — a condo he sold in 2005 and the Riverdale Marina itself, which he said Thomas recently sold for $30,000.
An unimpressed Zagel said he thought his tone of voice last week should have been enough to warn Thomas to behave. He delayed any ruling on changes to the conditions of Thomas’s house arrest until Monday.
Asked after the hearing how he could make a gift of the marina to the village of Riverdale if he has already sold it, as the government alleges, Thomas declined to answer.
As Thomas reddened and loudly railed against a former codefendant he said had falsely accused of him of making the banned phone calls, his attorney, Larry Beaumont, and his wife both urged him to calm down.
“Remember I told you we needed to be like this,” Beaumont said, miming the gentle undulations of a placid lake with his hands.
“Right now you’re doing this,” he added, chopping his hands up and down violently.
#16 May 16, 2014
Ex-informant pleads guilty to Riverdale fraud; faces 20 years
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter May 16, 2014
Fraudster and former federal mole John Thomas faces up to 20 years behind bars after he pleaded guilty Friday to stealing more than $370,000 from suburban taxpayers.
Thomas, 51, presented himself as the savior of south suburban Riverdale’s marina, securing $900,000 in tax increment financing to redevelop the site in 2012, before looting the funds for himself.
Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, the normally voluble and smooth-talking real estate developer pleaded guilty in a quiet voice at lunchtime in U.S. District Judge James Zagel’s courtroom.
His plea marks a swift resolution to the case; Thomas was indicted only last month. He led a wild couple of weeks while under house arrest on bond earlier this month, violating almost every order Zagel gave him, including staging an illicit tryst with his mistress, then roping his dentist into his cover story.
His attorneys Joe “The Shark” Lopez and Larry Beaumont said Friday that Thomas has already paid back $75,000 of the money he stole and that he hopes to pay back the rest. They said they will argue for a three-year sentence — below the federal guidelines — when Thomas is sentenced in August.
“He’s a good man who made some mistakes,” Beaumont said.“We all make mistakes.”
Thomas’s wife, Lori, shook her head as her husband’s misdeeds were listed in court by prosecutor Sunil Harjani. Despite the humiliation of her husband’s affair, she’s sticking by Thomas, Lopez said.
The plea deal does not require that Thomas cooperate with prosecutors. He previously dodged prison by serving as a federal informant for nearly a decade after his conviction for a billboard scam in New York in the late 1990s.
Prosecutors cut him a break on that occasion because evidence he provided helped convict politically-connected real estate developer Tony Rezko.
But Lopez said last week that Thomas has nobody left to cooperate against.
Thomas, who changed his name when he moved from New York to Chicago, has been trailed by a series of lawsuits and allegations of wrongdoing in recent years.
In addition to the stolen tax-increment financing funds, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of boats and equipment were stolen from the marina on his watch.
Some of the TIF cash he stole went to pay rent to Raghuveer Nayak, the businessman, felon and alleged “bribe guy” behind an alleged attempt to buy President Barack Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat for Jesse Jackson Jr.
Who were the Attorneys for Riverdale during this time. Why did they not protects the taxpayers? Maybe this is the tip of the iceberg.
#17 May 16, 2014
Mark Miller is Blue Islands TIF manager
#18 May 17, 2014
The State of Illinois is nothing but irrepairable corruption and bureaucracy!
#19 Jun 7, 2014
Harvey's ex-spokeswoman calls suburb 'dangerous'
Alvarado, who previously defended city, quit last month
By Matthew Walberg and Joseph Ryan, Tribune reporters
May 27, 2014
For years Sandra Alvarado was a top aide, spokeswoman and girlfriend to one of the area's most controversial mayors. Then last month she abruptly quit and said Harvey officials ran a "dangerous organization" that routinely ignored illegal acts.
In an about-face for someone who spent a decade defending the suburb in scandal after scandal, Alvarado sent a scathing email to Mayor Eric Kellogg and other top aides in which she implied that she was now speaking with outside investigators.
"Where can individuals that are elected, appointed or hired to service the public, behave lawlessly?... In the City of Harvey, that's where," Alvarado wrote in the email last month, adding that city officials "are aware of illegal and immoral acts and do absolutely nothing about it."
Alvarado quit as federal, state and county authorities have increased scrutiny of a suburb that a Tribune investigation in February found was arguably the most lawless place in the region. Sammie Young, who oversees community service officers in Harvey, recently told the Tribune that some officials had been "running around scared" amid fears Alvarado was talking with the FBI.
State and Cook County officials have started combing through the town's financial records as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigates borrowing tied to a botched hotel deal that cost taxpayers at least $10 million.
Earlier this year, the Tribune documented how state and federal officials for years failed to use their full authority to force reforms in a town that's paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to insiders as it nears insolvency while employing officers with checkered pasts on a police force swimming in unsolved violent crimes.
The questionable actions by outside agencies included an undercover FBI agent, posing as a strip club manager, who records show stuffed a campaign committee with $140,000 that helped re-elect Kellogg in 2007. The FBI has declined to say why.
Kellogg has declined to specifically address his former spokeswoman's allegations or release any documents related to her resignation, including the email. That's despite the Tribune's requesting the records four weeks ago. Under state law, agencies have two weeks to release records. The Tribune obtained the resignation email elsewhere.
As a member of Kellogg's inner circle, Alvarado has been at the forefront of city dealings since she rose from a Police Department secretary to become the mayor's public relations director and the police chief's top assistant in 2003. Through her attorney, she also acknowledged having a romantic relationship with Kellogg for nine years, through early 2012.
Over the years, Alvarado defended Harvey to the media when questions arose about Kellogg hiring officers with sketchy backgrounds, lawsuits accused the suburb of condoning corruption or brutality, and county officials raided the Police Department to find long-ignored evidence that let killers and rapists roam free.
But April 18, she wrote an email to the mayor and other city officials in which she said, "I must walk away from a dangerous organization.... I have had enough."
The email offers a critique of the administration in which she said she "endured a relentless assault of slander, pressure and adversity and death threats" while doing her job.
She said Denard Eaves — who has carried the title of acting police chief for six years — is "regularly threatened and belittled by leaders of the organization."
She said the mayor has phone conferences to "threaten and insult" employees.
Eaves referred questions to the man who took over Alvarado's duties, Sean Howard.
#20 Jun 7, 2014
Howard, speaking on behalf of the mayor, issued a statement that said the city takes all allegations seriously, does not condone wrongdoing and wishes Alvarado "the best in her future endeavors."
In her email, Alvarado said Young, who has advised the mayor on public safety issues, has been allowed to "openly and brazenly" threaten people.
Young told the Tribune he's never threatened anyone and welcomed an outside investigation in Harvey. He said that in recent years he was often at odds with Alvarado, including an argument the week she quit over whether she or Young would get to move into a certain office. Young said she quit after the mayor sided with him.
Alvarado declined to comment except through her attorney, Patrick Walsh. He did not elaborate on her allegations except to say she is considering filing a lawsuit and sent the email "because she was concerned for her well-being and physical safety." He said Alvarado did not want the email to become public, but he would not say if she's spoken with county, state or federal law enforcement.
In the final paragraph of her email, however, she wrote without elaboration: "Someone has listened."
In the next sentence, she cited unidentified attachments and said her city-owned car could be picked up 10 miles away at an address in Orland Park.
The address: a building that houses the south suburban field office for the FBI.
Tribune reporter Joe Mahr contributed.
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