While on the county payroll, a top urologist at Cook County Hospital solicited nearly $1 million from drug companies over the last decade for his private foundation.
Dr. Paul S. Ray's pitch was that the money would go toward medical research and education.
But most of the money hasn't gone to health care at all. Instead, Ray invested it -- mostly in Tony Rezko.
Rezko is the convicted influence-peddler who had been a prodigious fund-raiser for politicians including Sen. Barack Obama, Gov. Blagojevich and the late Cook County Board President John Stroger, the ultimate boss of the county hospitals.
Ray had long worked with Stroger's godson, Orlando Jones, a top administrator at Cook County Hospital who became Stroger's chief of staff. Jones eventually left county government for a job with Rezko. Last September, after he had been questioned by the FBI, Jones committed suicide.
Ray set up the Paul S. Ray Urology Education and Research Foundation 16 years ago. It began investing with Rezko's companies in 2002, according to reports Ray filed with the Internal Revenue Service. The foundation invested $500,000 with Rezko Concessions, which operated Panda Express and Papa John's Pizza restaurants. It also put $100,000 into a proposed housing development Rezko unsuccessfully sought to build on a 62-acre site along the Chicago River in the South Loop.
Ray, 63, of Chicago, also invested his own money with Rezko, spending millions to buy real estate and Papa John's Pizza restaurants from Rezko.
Can someone explain to me how a health care foundation can invest money in a chain of pizza restaurants? Oh yeah, you read my post earlier today on Indianapolis' Russell Foundation so you know just how far awry corrupt people can get with these supposed nonprofit entities. Well, this is where it gets really interesting. Ray's investments with Rezko didn't turn out so well. Recall also that the feds weren't too happy when Tony Rezko showed up at Orlando Jones' home a short time after he supposedly committed suicide when he was supposed to be on home detention. Jones was a top administrator where Dr. Ray worked. Here's what the Sun-Times tells us about Rezko's deals gone bad with Dr. Ray:
Ray's foundation appears to have lost the $500,000 it invested with Rezko Concessions -- nearly half of the foundation's assets. But the foundation apparently got back the $100,000 invested in Rezko's failed South Loop development.
Ray is battling lawsuits over two deals with Rezko. One was filed by Jabir Muhammad, a son of Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad, claiming Rezko and Ray fraudulently took ownership of the South Side mansion where Muhammad lives. The other involves a $646,949 loan Ray allegedly got from a Rezko associate, Elie Maloof, to buy the Papa John's restaurants that Rezko owned in Wisconsin.
Ray's purchase of those restaurants is part of a second, still-pending criminal case against Rezko. Federal prosecutors say Rezko engaged in a conspiracy so Ray could buy the Papa John's stores in Wisconsin. Ray -- who has not been charged -- has been granted immunity from prosecution to testify against Rezko.
Yeah, you read that right. Ray and Rezko are entangled in a dispute with the Nation of Islam founder's son over the ownership of his Southside mansion. Recall that Rezko played an instrumental role in helping Sen. Obama purchase his Southside mansion not too far away from Muhammad's mansion. Note that reports indicate that Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam has provided assistance to Obama's campaign from the get go. And what about that $6,000 Ray contributed to Obama's Senate campaign? Obama contributed it to charity after details of his financial entanglements with Rezko emerged publicly. Wake up America!