#188 May 23, 2013
Out of sight out of mind! Heck No, they need jail time!
#189 Jun 17, 2013
Ex top aide to Todd Stroger to go on trial Monday in public corruption case
Nearly three years after she was arrested while pulling out of a downtown parking garage, Carla Oglesby – a top aide to former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger – is expected to go on trial on public corruption charges Monday.
Stroger and Eugene Mullins, Stroger’s childhood friend and onetime chief media spokesman, were listed among the roughly 70 potential witnesses in court documents filed last year.
#190 Jun 22, 2013
The taxpayers of Blue Island deserve a Federal investigation that is active and ongoing, That's as it should be. Public corruption erodes the public's trust in government, and the taxpayer money that should have gone to serving the public's needs, was diverted toward feeding greed. That is inexcusable.
#191 Jun 23, 2013
They should be plenty ashamed, in the condition they left this city.
#192 Jun 23, 2013
What do they all have in common? They al have penises.
#193 Jun 29, 2013
The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The residents who are political operatives, continue to spread the lies necessary to protect the misdeeds of Frasor-Peloquin years. Time is running out, and the truth will be brought to light.
#194 Jul 4, 2013
It should be noted, they all have the same lawyer. Burt Oldsin.
#195 Jul 4, 2013
Failed multimillion-dollar Harvey hotel deal rife with red flags
City stuck with $20M in loan payments and foreclosed, half-gutted property after borrowing spree to help shaky developer
The City of Harvey took out millions of dollars in loans to redevelop a hotel, but the place is now vacant and half-gutted, tied up in foreclosure.
17040 S Halsted Street, Harvey, IL 60426,
By Joseph Ryan and Joe Mahr, Chicago Tribune reporters
July 5, 2013
Tucked between a bustling interstate and a booming strip club, a half-gutted hotel stands as a testament to a multimillion-dollar insider deal that stuck taxpayers with the tab in one of Chicago's poorest suburbs.
Harvey officials have said rehabbing the large hotel would help spark a rebirth for the city. They gave about $10 million to a developer with a history of money problems but a close relationship with City Hall.
The money is gone now.
The community is left with the shell of a hotel in foreclosure and numerous unanswered questions. Harvey officials have failed to produce records, requested under state open-records laws, accounting for where the money went. City borrowing for the project could ultimately cost taxpayers $20 million, according to loan documents.
Harvey Ald. Joseph Whittington summed up the frustration: "I believe we got screwed."
A Tribune investigation of public records and interviews with those involved found that key aspects of the deal raised red flags:
•The city partnered with a developer who had a history of lawsuits and liens — including with Harvey — and then let him use millions to pay off debt, not rebuild the hotel.
•The city's comptroller — charged with looking out for Harvey's best interests — was also working with the developer, who said he paid the comptroller too.
•The money continued to flow from City Hall even as contractors said they weren't being paid and the developer took out a high-interest, short-term mortgage.
•After that mortgage went into foreclosure, the city did little to recover its money. In fact, an alderman even tried to help the developer land a similar deal in another city.
The developer, Satish "Sunny" Gabhawala, told the Tribune he didn't pocket any money in the deal but instead lost a small fortune of his own. He said ultimately the project simply ran out of cash.
That is why Gabhawala said he is now in India and isn't planning to come back until he raises money to rescue the project. The latest plan, he said, hinges on the ability of potential investors to offload 100-year-old "Chinese gold bonds."
"I have pride," Gabhawala, 55, said during a two-hour phone interview. "I don't want someone to view me as a crook."
Stateside, Harvey officials are more tight-lipped. Mayor Eric Kellogg and his spokeswoman declined requests for interviews.
A city spokeswoman issued a statement that said aldermen initially thought the project was "viable and worthy" and that the city is now "exploring its options" to recover the money — nearly two years after the hotel went into foreclosure.
Joseph Letke, the city's comptroller, said he was looking out for Harvey's best interests and that he firmly believed the project would succeed.
Several experts the Tribune talked to about the deal questioned why city officials would give so much money to a cash-strapped developer, then not set benchmarks or a clear way to get the money back. They included Thomas Cafcas, a researcher with the Washington-based Good Jobs First, which advocates for stricter rules on taxpayer subsidies.
"I'm baffled, frankly," Cafcas said. "It sounds like the city took on a very risky deal and the risk didn't pay off, and the risk wasn't even worth it."
At the heart of the deal is Gabhawala, who bills himself as the go-to guy for hard-to-get hotel financing at Indian-American cultural and business organizations. He also dabbled in politics, contributing to campaigns and befriending politicians.
#196 Jul 4, 2013
Joseph Letke, now where did we here that name before? Some jail time would do society, and Joseph Letke some good.
#197 Jul 4, 2013
Gabhawala turned to Harvey and taxpayers for the money. It remains unclear what role Letke played in advising the city about the hotel deal and borrowing. Letke and city officials declined to specify his role when asked by the Tribune.
Broadly, as the city's comptroller, Letke's accounting firm was trusted to manage the city's finances. Records show the firm was involved in the hotel deal to some extent and that at one point Letke advised aldermen on the deal's benefits.
Letke's firm is listed as a "financial advisor" on the borrowing deals for the project. The same records indicate the city directed more than $540,000 of the borrowed money to Letke's firm for consulting fees. Letke questioned the total figure but said he wasn't sure what his firm was paid.
For Gabhawala, Letke did more than keep the books.
Letke brought in two businessmen to put their names — but not their money — behind Gabhawala's project to help convince city officials it would get done, the developer said. And one of Letke's employees lent Gabhawala $200,000, according to records and interviews.
"(Letke) essentially presented the deal as,'Listen, how would you like to make this (much money)? You will get the money back right away. You'd be doing me a favor,'" former employee Theodora Tsatsos said.
Letke's various roles raised questions among several experts about the appearance of a conflict of interest, though that is less of a concern if all sides know about the roles. And Letke said other city officials did know of his work with Gabhawala.
To help ensure city financial officers provide impartial advice, the Illinois Government Finance Officers Association has an ethics code that generally discourages them from having an outside interest that could taint their objectivity.
Letke said that whatever he did for Gabhawala did not create a conflict of interest with his obligations to Harvey taxpayers.
"I'm as disappointed as anybody," Letke said about the project in a brief phone interview Wednesday. Letke said he would address some of the Tribune's questions via email but needed the city to sign off on his answers. As of late Thursday, the email hadn't arrived.
The final deal was approved by Harvey aldermen with no dissent in the summer of 2008. The 21-page agreement didn't specify deadlines for when the hotel would be done, but it pledged the city would come up with millions of taxpayer-backed dollars to get it completed.
What followed was three years of seat-of-your pants borrowing and spending by the city and the developer, with records showing plans constantly evolving.
Gabhawala himself described the yearslong project in ways that suggest it lurched from one pile of hastily gathered money to the next and said he struggled to pay the bills as they came due.
The city first took out $6 million in bonds in August 2008, with records showing most went toward loans on the hotel and taxes while just $1 million was set aside for actual construction work.
The city authorized Letke's accounting firm to collect $400,000 in consulting fees on that borrowing, records show.
By year's end, Letke appeared at a special Harvey council meeting called to restructure the deal.
Records of the meeting don't show anyone raising concerns about taxpayer dollars going to pay off a developer's taxes or mortgage. Instead, Letke asked city officials to change the kind of borrowing it planned to do to finish the project because the money was needed fast.
The council voted to do that, but it doesn't appear those bonds were actually sold. The city didn't turn over records that would clarify what happened.
Soon, contractors were complaining about not being paid:
Officials inked another deal in 2009 and borrowed another $3 million, with records showing most of the money being directed to pay off a hotel mortgage. Less than $1 million was set aside for construction.
The city authorized Letke's firm to collect $72,000 in consulting fees on that borrowing, records show.
#198 Jul 4, 2013
Oh where oh where has the taxpayer's money gone?
Why to Odelson, Postel, Letke, Donahue, just to name a few.
#199 Jul 5, 2013
This sounds like Mayor Peloquin city Clerk Pam Frasor and Alderman Mark Potaska JAWA SCHEME. HELLO FBI!
#200 Jul 5, 2013
Many of the same individuals approached the 7 communities for the Jawa deal that smelled from the very beginning and stinks now.
#201 Jul 11, 2013
Ex-Dixon comptroller appealing lengthy sentence for looting city's coffers
Attorney says judge failed to credit Rita Crundwell's cooperation with FBI after arrest
Attorneys for former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell have requested that her nearly 20-year sentence be thrown out and a new hearing be held.
By Melissa Jenco, Chicago Tribune reporter July 10, 2013
Disgraced former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell is challenging her nearly 20-year federal prison sentence for stealing almost $54 million from the small northwestern Illinois town.
In a legal brief filed Wednesday with the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago, Crundwell's attorney argued that a federal judge in Rockford erred in imposing the stiff sentence by not giving her credit for her extensive cooperation after her arrest.
Paul Gaziano, the federal defender representing Crundwell, said U.S. District Judge Philip Reinhard improperly tacked four years onto the sentence above what was called for by federal sentencing guidelines. He asked that the sentence be thrown out and a new hearing held.
Crundwell, 60, was sentenced in February to 19 years and seven months in federal prison after pleading guilty to a single count of wire fraud and admitting to money laundering. For more than two decades, the longtime comptroller looted the city's coffers in what authorities have called the largest municipal fraud in U.S. history.
In the new court filing, Gaziano said that Crundwell admitted wrongdoing when first confronted by the FBI at City Hall in April 2012. Over the next 10 months, she met regularly with law enforcement and helped with the sale of the extensive assets she acquired through her 22-year scheme.
Yet the defense brief said the judge mentioned the cooperation only in passing at her sentencing hearing and failed to credit Crundwell in the sentence for accepting responsibility.
The filing also faulted the judge for sentencing Crundwell to four years above the maximum called for under the federal guidelines after finding Dixon residents suffered psychological or emotional harm from her massive fraud.
Gaziano maintained the finding was misplaced and said the city was the victim, not its residents.
But in a telephone interview Wednesday, Dixon Mayor Jim Burke scoffed at the argument that Crundwell's theft did not psychologically harm Dixon residents and said he hopes the former comptroller's sentence is not reduced.
"The city doesn't have a say in it, but we would be opposing it 100 percent," he said.
Prosecutors have until Aug. 9 to file their response with the appeals court.
Crundwell, who used the stolen money to fund a lavish lifestyle and horse-breeding operation, is being held at a federal prison in Minnesota.
Since last spring, the U.S. Marshals Service has been selling off her assets, including about 400 horses, a ranch in Dixon, multiple homes, a luxury motor home, dozens of vehicles and hundreds of thousands of dollars in jewelry.
The auctions have raised about $12.2 million. After the government takes its cut for caring for the horses for months and other debts are paid off, about $9.2 million could be returned to Dixon, Jason Wojdylo, chief inspector for the Marshals Service, said Wednesday.
#202 Jul 26, 2013
It is quite obvious now, that Peloquin-Frasor years in office have been a cruel hoax, on the people.
#203 Jul 26, 2013
Blue Island has beautiful brand new vehicles, street repairs, street resurfacing, land, and jobs.
#204 Jul 28, 2013
Ex-state rep should get prison time
Wow! I was shocked to read that another Illinois politician had pleaded guilty to fraud.
Former state Rep. Constance Howard, you need to go directly to jail and repay all of the money you stole from the contributors to the fund you established, for the sole purpose of lining your pockets with cash.
You are a thief and should be treated as a thief; spend some time in prison.
When will this stop? Illinois politicians abusing their elected positions for their personal gain.
#205 Aug 2, 2013
Detroit is bankrupt. Liberal spending, corruption and powerful unions were the main cause.
Detroit has not had a Republican mayor in about 50 years.
No, this does not sound familiar. Mayor Peloquin and Pam Frasor are both Republicans, and given local Democratic blessing. And look how bankrupt they have left Blue Island.
#207 Aug 17, 2013
Blue Island Residents are not Conflicted Over Pam Frasor’s and Don Peloquin's Legacy. The majority agree, they did a terrible job.
#208 Aug 17, 2013
Even their kids agree!
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