Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ex-alderman Troutman sentenced to four years in prison

February 17, 2009

BY NATASHA KORECKI Federal Courts Reporter
Despite a tearful plea for mercy, proclaiming she's "no monster," former Ald. Arenda Troutman was sentenced to four years in prison on mail fraud and tax fraud charges that were part of a corruption investigation.

An emotional Troutman hung her head and apologized to her ward, the city and for bringing "shame" to her family.

"As God as my witness, I am no monster. I am not a criminal and I never helped criminals," Troutman said.

U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo said he couldn't understand how public officials continue, year after year, to think they can get away with corruption.

"You are a walking contradiction," Castillo said. Adding "you join the hall of shame," of corrupt Illinois politicians.

Troutman, a single mother of three, said she turned on the radio this morning -- and her son heard about his mother's predicament.

"I looked at my son's face. I didn't know what to do or say but tell him I loved him and that I'm sorry," she said, crying.

"I'm sorry. I'm regretful. There's still good in me."

A prosecutor in the case said today the corruption case grew out of a probe into the Black Disciples street gang. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Alesia said agents doing surveillance on gang kingpin Marvel Thompson saw a meeting take place between the ex-alderman and Thompson.

It was later revealed that Troutman carried on a relationship with another member of the gang, Donnell Jehan. Alesia said it was "aggravating" for law enforcement to battle gangs only to find Troutman, an alderman, had befriended gang members and used them to help her in campaigning.

"It is appalling and something the court should consider," in sentencing, Alesia said.

Alesia also revealed that on the day agents knocked on her door for her arrest, she was shredding documents having to do with the Hired Truck program and a family member who had business in that controversial program.

The Sun-Times previously revealed Troutman's family ties to the program and first reported that Troutman's shredder was still warm when agents entered her home in the 2007 raid.

Troutman admitted she coerced kickbacks totaling $21,500 over the years from developers to support their projects in her South Side ward and, in one case, outside her ward. She was famously caught on wiretaps saying that all aldermen are "ho's."

Her lawyer, Michael Gillespie, said Troutman, 51, is a single mother of three and repentant.

"Her actions are terrible," Gillespie said. "But judge, you have to look at this picture as a whole."

He spoke of doing work for affordable housing, kids, seniors and the poor.

Troutman, wearing a tan pants suit, was soft-spoken, tearful and repeatedly apologized for her actions.

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