Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
BY FRAN SPIELMAN AND TIM NOVAK Staff Reporters
Former Hired Truck kingpin Michael Tadin has snared a three-year, $39.4 million contract to operate and maintain one of three waste transfer stations that Mayor Daley once attempted to lease.
Tadin-owned M.A.T. Leasing was chosen to operate the largest of the three facilities at 750 N. Kilbourn -- where city crews once sorted through garbage for recyclables in blue bags -- after assembling a sub-contracting team that includes two firms that cashed in on the scandal-plagued Hired Truck program.
South Chicago Trucking Corp., a women's business enterprise, and B.B.D. Trucking, a minority-owned company, will each receive a $2 million share of the Tadin contract.
With 43 trucks paid by three city departments, B.B.D. was the largest black-owned company to ride the Hired Truck gravy train. One of its drivers pleaded guilty in 2005 to stealing city asphalt and delivering it to a private job site while driving a B.B.D.-owned Hired Truck.
"I wasn't aware of that. I don't know what that driver did. But, the owner of the company I've known for 25 years," Tadin said Tuesday, noting that he under-bid his closest competitor by $2 million.
The new contract appears to fly in the face of Tadin's 2004 pledge to wash his hands of city business.
But, he said, "We never precluded ourselves from public work. We were talking about Hired Truck."
The contract to operate the transfer station at 3757 W. 34th Street was awarded to Heartland Recycling on the strength of owner Thomas Volini's $15.6 million bid, records show.
The third center, at 1633 W. Medill, will apparently remain in the hands of Allied Waste Transportation.
Tadin is the perennial city trucking magnate whose $1.25 million loan to a security company co-owned by Ald. Patrick Huels (11th) forced the 1997 resignation of Daley's former City Council floor leader. Tadin's trucking company had received a $1.1 million city subsidy with Huels' help.
Tadin was the undisputed king of Hired Trucks, emerging from the pack, even after City Hall accused the company of over-billing and agreed to spread the wealth to other firms. No over-billing was ever documented.
The program was disbanded in 2005 after the Chicago Sun-Times disclosed how politically-connected companies were paid to do little or no work.
MAT Leasing was awarded the three-year contract because it was the low bidder for the work covering that part of the city, said Shannon Andrews of the Department of Procurement Services.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
February 23, 2010
By RUMMANA HUSSAIN Criminal Courts Reporter
A Cook County Circuit Court clerk was sentenced today to three years in prison after pleading guilty to bribery, admitting he took money from a Texas woman and falsely promised her he would pay off a judge in exchange to win her jailed husband’s release.
Angelo Colon, 48, first met Eduardo Suke’s wife in September 2008, when she was trying to bail out her spouse on drug-trafficking charges, according to prosecutors. Colon, of the 3000 block of North Kolmar, allegedly presented a phony business card and took $3,000 from the woman at that meeting at a fast-food restaurant near the 26th and California courthouse.
Colon met the woman another time with a private investigator and continued to promise he’d help if she kept making payments, prosecutors said. At that meeting, the victim was asked to surrender Suke’s two identification cards as a member of the Kickapoo Nation.
Colon had the woman wire the remaining $10,000 to him in five separate transactions between Nov. 4, 2008, and Jan. 13, 2009, prosecutors said.
Colon’s arrest is part of an investigation into financial corruption, according to state’s attorney office spokeswoman Sally Daly, who said there was no evidence Colon ever contacted a judge to seek the jailed man's release.
Colon had been employed at the clerk’s office since 1999.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Kevin Trudeau, the slick, silver-tongued infomercial king and best-selling author amassed a fortune over years of persistent, late-night hawking.
This week, he made the wrong sales pitch.
Trudeau was found in criminal contempt of court Thursday and nearly had handcuffs slapped on him after he asked his supporters to email the federal judge overseeing a pending civil case brought against him by the Federal Trade Commission.
U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman said he was flooded with hundreds of “harassing, threatening and interfering” emails, locking up the judge’s email system and shutting down his Blackberry for part of the day.
“This is direct contempt — that’s how I view it,” Gettleman said. “He interfered with the direct process of the court.”
Gettleman hauled Trudeau into court a day after he posted a message on his Web site with his appeal. Gettleman ordered Trudeau to turn over his passport, pay $50,000 bond and warned he could face future prison time.
Gettleman, on his own authority, can sentence Trudeau to up to six months in prison. In addition, the judge referred the matter and the emails to the U.S. Marshals Service, which investigates threats to judiciary.
“This is the first time we are addressing an email blast or something that’s disrupted the court’s email system,” said Acting U.S. Marshal John O’Malley.
Trudeau, who also hosts his own radio show and has served prison time for credit card fraud, appeared in court tanned and tieless, wearing a black mock turtleneck and navy blue suit coat.
Trudeau, who has a residence in Hinsdale, refused to talk after court, even remaining silent when twice asked his age. He’s 47.
After being called on the carpet by the judge, he sent a follow-up email to his supporters telling them:
“That was a mistake. It was wrong to make that request,” Trudeau said. “Please do not under any circumstances communicate with the court or Judge Gettleman.”
“I don’t have confidence in your client,” Gettleman told Trudeau’s lawyer. “I do insist that, if he is to avoid custody today, he post bond.”
The Federal Trade Commission has labeled Trudeau a fraud and got a court order in 2004 to curtail his business.
Trudeau has sold millions of books, in part with the pitch that the government is trying to keep him from telling dieters the truth with his “The Weight-Loss Cure They Don’t Want You to Know About,” which has become a best-seller.
Gettleman previously has banned Trudeau from making infomercials for three years, fined him more than $5 million, then raised that fine to more than $37 million — the amount the FTC figured Trudeau made on the book via his infomercials. An appeals court said the ruling was too broad and sent it back to the judge. Gettleman was still weighing the matter when he was deluged with emails Wednesday.
Trudeau has pitched miracle health cures, also saying the government wants to keep the public from knowing about natural remedies.
In a recent on-air radio broadcast, Trudeau talks about wanting to land a TV show. If Fox gave him the chance, he said he’d be: “Bigger than O’Reilly. Bigger than Glenn Beck.”
Stephen Barrett, the creator of Quackwatch.org, has for years labeled Trudeau a fraud.
What led the late-night miracle-cure hawker to criminal contempt charges in Chicago:
* Kevin Trudeau's Shop America USA as well as Natural Cures Inc. are in Elk Grove Village.
* Trudeau has a home in Hinsdale.
* In 2008, U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman banned Trudeau from infomercials for three years and ordered him to pay more than $5 million in profits from his book, The Weight Loss Cure "They" Don't Want You to Know About. It was the second contempt finding in four years. An appellate court said the ruling was too broad and sent it back to Gettleman, who was poised to revise his ruling in March.
* Gettleman has previously stated that "the infomercial[s] falsely and intentionally led thousands (probably hundreds of thousands) of consumers to believe that the Weight Loss Book would describe an 'easy,' 'simple' protocol that, once 'finished' would allow the consumer to 'eat anything' he or she wants."
* Gettleman hit Trudeau with criminal contempt and threatened him with prison time after Trudeau urged supporters to flood Gettleman's e-mail in-box
“He struck me as somebody who (believes he) is omnipotent. That is, no one can touch him,” Barrett said. “That’s almost been the case.”
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
* Those with cell phones in criminal courtroom face jail time or fine.
June 29, 2009
By Ruth Ann Krause, Post-Tribune correspondent
A recent ban on cell phones in the criminal courts at the Lake County Government Center delayed testimony in an attempted murder trial after one of the jurors refused to give up the device and was arrested.
Lake Superior Court Judges Salvador Vasquez, Clarence Murray, Diane Ross Boswell and Thomas Stefaniak Jr., who preside over criminal division cases, signed an order two weeks ago banning cell phones, but visitors continue to bring their phones to the building.
Lake County Commissioners are also looking into the issue.
County Attorney John Dull said at the commissioners' request he sent Boswell, senior judge of the criminal division, a letter seeking clarification.
The order signed by the judges prohibits members of the general public from bringing cell phones into the courts building, but Dull pointed out the administration building and courts building are connected by a hallway. Someone could enter the administration building with a cell phone and walk into the courts building. In addition, there are civil courtrooms and other offices in the courts building.
Visitors in possession of a cell phone in a criminal courtroom could be held in contempt and be jailed or fined, according to the judges' order.
Last Monday, court security officers arrested a juror selected for an attempted murder case in Boswell's courtroom. The juror became upset after being told he couldn't bring his phone into court and was arrested for disorderly conduct.
Afterward, Boswell spent about an hour questioning the remaining 12 jurors and one alternate about whether the ruckus over the cell phone ban in court would affect their deliberations in the attempted murder case of Marlon Stringfellow.
During questioning by Boswell, several jurors said they were allowed to bring their cell phones, which typically are placed with other metal objects in a plastic bin and examined by court security officers while the visitor walks through a metal detector.
Since the courtroom ban went into effect, security officers ask visitors where they're going in the building. Those who say they're going to court are instructed to return their phones to the car.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
June 17, 2009
BY LISA DONOVAN AND FRAN SPIELMAN Staff Reporters
Mayor Daley finally sounds ready to give the International Olympic Committee the financial guarantee it is seeking.
The mayor told reporters in Switzerland that he’ll sign a host city contract with the committee putting taxpayers on the hook for any financial losses if the city wins the summer 2016 games — even as some aldermen grumbled Daley is exceeding his authority.
Daley and an entourage of Chicago Olympics boosters are in the lakeside city of Lausanne, making their pitch for the games on the committee’s home turf.
Back in Chicago, mayoral press secretary Jacquelyn Heard stressed that Chicago 2016 has come up with a series of guarantees and private funding formulas for the proposed $4.8 billion game plan, so taxpayers won’t be footing the bill.
“Obviously the mayor understands that neither he nor Chicago 2016 can go to taxpayers and essentially expect them to guarantee or be responsible for long- or short-term Olympic financing,” Heard said today. "When he said he was prepared to sign the host city contract, it was with knowledge that Chicago will only sign it under the new approach that does not require us to go to the taxpayers beyond what we already promised."
She's referring to today's announcement that an added $500 million in insurance will be part of a $2.5 billion safety net for the Chicago games.
The net already includes: a $450 million “rainy day fund;” as much as $375 million in IOC cancellation insurance; an additional $500 million in insurance coverage, a state guarantee of $250 million and a “last-resort” $500 million guarantee of taxpayer money from the city of Chicago.
Daley initially vowed that not a dime of taxpayer dollars would be spent on the 2016 games, but after the last election — and a prod by the United States Olympic Committee to “put some skin in the game” — the City Council approved the financing.
Daley insisted at the time: “If everything fails — an earthquake, tornado, everything comes down — this is your insurance policy.”
Lori Healey, President of Chicago 2016 issued a written statement from Switzerland saying the new insurance “will further reduce risk to the City of Chicago and its taxpayers.”
“This new development will ensure that at the required time — two days prior to the October 2nd decision — the Mayor of Chicago will be able to sign the host city agreement,” she saidt. “The cost of this solution will be funded entirely by Chicago 2016."
Chicago 2016 officials say they're heartened by IOC president Jacques Rogues repeat of an earlier assurance that Chicago's financial guarantees are strong.
Mike Moran, a sports consultant formerly with the United States Olympic Committee , says the mayor signing this document doesn’t necessarily mean Chicago can’t work out something with the IOC to make sure city isn’t on the line for losses.
That’s what happened when Moran worked on the successful bid for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
“We had $25 million in guarantees (in largely privately dollars) against a shortfall and Mayor Tom Bradley signed it,” Moran said of the traditional host city contract calling for L.A., in this case, to cover any losses. “But there was a quiet nod by the IOC, that if there was an overrun the city wouldn’t be liable for it.”
The money issue arose as Chicago, along with competing cities Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo, made brief, closed-door presentations today before 93 IOC members — about 10 shy of the full Olympic committee that will decide in October which city will host the 2016 games.
Chicago was first at bat today, using the start of the 45-minute presentation to talk about how its $4.8 billion game plan would be financed. Chicago is the only finalist city in the pack not to have 100 percent government guarantees, standard for American cities because the federal government traditionally doesn’t pony up for guarantee money for the Olympic games.
Pat Ryan, head of the Chicago 2016 effort, said in a news conference in Switzerland today that he believes the Chicago’s plan to layer guarantees with private and corporate donations is the best financial approach in these recessionary times.
“We believe that it’s responsible [in] changing times. And it’s very important because it spreads the risk among public and private sources. We also believe this combination of public and private guarantees [that] could be as much as $2 billion is not only better for host city taxpayers, but we believe also offers stronger protection for the Games than government can do alone.”
With another layer of insurance protection, Daley intends to sign the host-city contract — without returning to the City Council for authorization, Heard said.
“We are not exceeding the authority granted by the City Council. We remain within the financial boundaries they set” when they approved the $500 million Olympic guarantee, she said.
Several aldermen strongly disagreed. They argued that Daley has “no authority” to sign the host-city contract without Council approval.
“This is a big deal. He’s planning to sign an agreement that puts the city on the hook for an unlimited amount of money,” said Ald. Joe Moore (49th).
“Let them come before the City Council and explain to us why this is a safe bet for taxpayers. They can tell us they have insurance. They can make all the arguments they want to make. But, as elected representatives closest to the votes, we need to have a say in this. This is something that recent events have made all too clear. We need to exercise our authority as a check and balance on the mayor’s office.”
After the fiasco caused by Daley’s $1.15 billion decision to lease Chicago’s 36,000 parking meters, aldermen can’t afford to sit back, according to Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd).
“They made guarantees, and none of those guarantees have come true on the parking meter deal. I don’t think the Council will buy his guarantee of, ‘Don’t worry. There’s multiple layers of guarantees here,’” Waguespack said.
“The Council needs to be part of this process. The mayor’s office and 2016 needs to show us what those guarantees are and what taxpayers are on the hook for ... .I have no information right now that proves to me these backstops are genuine.”
June 17, 2009
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org
Chicago aldermen on Tuesday demanded to know why the city has paid nearly $500,000 to lease space at a South Side industrial site co-owned by Mayor Daley's nephew without City Council approval required for city leases.
As chairman of the City Council's Committee on Housing and Real Estate, Ald. Ray Suarez (31st) should have signed off on the lease at 3348 S. Pulaski.
But, the Daley administration's decision to make it a month-to-month lease -- and continue that temporary arrangement since November, 2007 -- denied Suarez' committee and the full City Council the right to approve the deal.
"Things have to be done the right way. Right is right. Wrong is wrong. You can't skirt" the rules, Suarez said.
"Why didn't we get a long-term contract? I want to know what their justification is for giving them a month-to-month lease. You could do month-to-month for a while," but not for 15 months.
Unless the city can prove it needed flexibility to get out of the lease quickly, it appears that the month-to-month lease was designed to get around the City Council, said Ald. Joe Moore (49th).
"It would seem to me that someone was trying to hide something," Moore said.
He added, "One of the reasons we have these meetings is so the public and ... media can know who's getting these leases. It begs the question why, in this particular case, it was done in what appears to be a secretive fashion. We are owed an explanation."
Anthony Pascente a spokesman for the city's Department of General Services, did not return repeated phone calls on the lease.
Despite weeks of questions from the Chicago Sun-Times, City Hall yet to produce a lease document or invoices to justify the monthly payments, at a rate of $3.83-per-square foot for 70,565 square feet of space, 20 percent of the warehouse.
Nor have city officials provided an explanation for the month-to-month arrangement with mayoral nephew Robert Vanecko and his partners, developer Allison Davis and Davis' son Jared.
The Sun-Times reported earlier this month that Vanecko and Davis used $4.2 million of the $68 million they manage for five city employee pension funds to help buy the mostly vacant warehouse and surrounding land.
On Sunday, the newspaper disclosed that the lease was linked to the demise of Chicago's scandal-plagued Hired Truck program.
The Department of Water Management says it needed a place to park dozens of dump trucks leased by the city to replace Hired Trucks.
In October, 2006, they found the ideal spot in the massive industrial property on Pulaski Road, just north of the Stevenson Expy.
After parking the trucks outside for a year, they decided to move them inside the warehouse on the 15-acre site.
As they negotiated a lease for that building, it changed hands, officials said. And City Hall insisted it had no idea that the new owners of the building included an investment company co-owned by the mayor's nephew.
Last week, Vanecko abruptly announced that he would "end his involvement with DV Urban Realty Partners, both as a general partner and as an investor," effective July 1. He cited a desire to minimize "unwarranted distractions.
He bowed out two weeks after a federal grand jury issued subpoenas seeking details of why the pension funds invested with Vanecko's start-up firm three years ago.