|Chicago City Hall insider John Bills after a jury found him guilty (Brian Jackson/Sun-Times Photo)|
It's just all in a day's work in Chicago where federal prosecutors charge corrupt pol after corrupt pol with charges never prosecuted here in Indianapolis where federal prosecutors basically tell government whistle blowers to f _ _ _ off when they attempt to report crimes against the public, even when tens of millions of dollars are being stolen one at a time in plain sight by a small group of self-dealing insiders who pull the strings of the people we mistakenly believe represent the people when we elect them to office.
Bill's attorney insisted his client was innocent. He claimed he lacked the juice to accomplish what federal prosecutors accused him of doing, pointing instead to the real power brokers like his ward boss, the Speaker for Life Michael Madigan, former Mayor Richard Daley and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Bill's never took the stand, and his attorney didn't dare offer any evidence that would have implicated the real power brokers.
The evidence showed Redflex had used its local Chicago consultant to funnel $560,000 in cash bribes, in addition to more than $18,000 it spent entertaining him at posh hotels and fancy dinners, gifting him pricey cigars, computers, Super Bowl tickets and providing him free use of an Arizona condo put in the name of another person for his exclusive use. Bills' family and friends actually tried to convince the jury Bill's new-found wealth came from the sale of highly-sought tickets to sporting events and baseball memorabilia he accumulated over the years because of his insider access to all the Chicago White Sox games. The jury didn't buy it.
"When public officials violate the public trust to line their own pockets, we’re going to be there and we’re going to hold them accountable," U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said of today's verdict, who actually helped prosecute the case. It's too bad neither U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler nor Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry share Fardon's enthusiasm for prosecuting those who violate the public trust here.
UPDATE: The nearly bankrupt Chicago Public Schools system is now seeking as much as $10 million from its former CEO, Barbara Bird Bennett, who pleaded guilty to taking bribes from a company she awarded a no-bid contract, which is about triple the amount the school system paid in salary to her during her short tenure there.