February 19, 2014

USA: Former Chicago Cook County Democratic Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno Was Sentenced To 11 Years In Prison Today For Extortion, Corruption Charges. NEXT!

The Chicaco Tribune
written by Steve Schmadeke
Wednesday February 19, 2014

Former Cook County Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno was sentenced to 11 years in prison this afternoon on corruption charges.

Moreno had pleaded guilty to using his county board position to pressure a company with a county contract to hire a friend of his who then paid him a $100,000 kickback that Moreno, an attorney, attempted to disguise as legal fees.

The former commissioner was also tied to a bribery scheme involving the sale of bandages to Stroger Hospital and other public hospitals.

He had also taken a $5,000 bribe in exchange for his help in getting approval for a Cicero waste transfer station.

U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman said he needed to impose a sentence that would deter other public officials in Illinois from engaging in corruption and noted that Moreno's misconduct lasted for nearly five years.

"The point has to be made and the signal has to be sent," the judge said. "The conduct was so brazen. It was not an aberration. It was standard operating procedure."

Moreno, wearing a pin-striped dark blue suit, had one of his attorneys read a three-page letter he wrote to the judge.

“Although hard to admit that I didn’t know the difference, I now know that what I regarded as ‘politics as usual’ were illegal acts,” the statement said. “Regretfully I became a willing participant in this culture. As the government’s recordings demonstrate, people wanted something from me all of the time.”

Moreno wrote that he had served “honorably” for most of his career but that he associated with the wrong people and began to drink too much.

“I suffered from the flawed traits of excess pride, greed, selfishness and a sense of invincibility,” he said. “I stand before you a disgraced man.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Stetler said that Moreno had “systematically abused the system to benefit himself” while ignoring “the long line of corrupt politicians who came through this building.”

It was because of politicians like Moreno, he said, that the Chicago area was “saddled with the reputation of being one of the most corrupt places in the country.”

“The people of this state have had enough of corrupt politicians,” said Stetler, who sought a sentence of more than 13 years in prison to send a message.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Moreno’s corruption was “disheartening.”

“What I usually say about this, being a history teacher, is that in a democracy you may not get the government you deserve, but you get the government you put up with,” Preckwinkle told reporters at an unrelated press conference. “And unfortunately in Illinois we’ve been willing to put up with a pretty remarkable and unsavory cast of characters. All of us who live in the state have to take responsibility for that.


written by Staff
Wednesday February 19, 2014

CHICAGO - A federal judge Wednesday sent former long-time Chicago-area politician Joseph Moreno to prison for 11 years for corruption that includes extortion.
Moreno, 61, a lawyer who spent more than 16 years on the Cook County Commission, was ordered by U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman to forfeit $100,000 and pay more than $138,000 in restitution, the U.S. attorney's office said in a release.

Moreno pleaded guilty July 1 to conspiracy to commit extortion after he was initially charged in late June 2012, about 18 months after he left public office.

Moreno is to report to prison April 21.

"Mr. Moreno was not a reluctant participant in these schemes; he was an eager participant," Feinerman said, adding that Moreno "embraced them with gusto and pursued them with vigor."

Moreno "repeatedly pursued his own interests at the expense of those he was supposed to serve," Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Stetler and Megan Church wrote in a government sentencing memo. "[H]e extorted a reputable business and corrupted the highest levels of Cook County government, the town of Cicero and a private hospital. He also evaded taxes and suborned perjury so he could reduce his child support obligations.

"And when he was confronted about his crimes, he obstructed justice by providing the government with false invoices in an effort to conceal his criminal conduct."

The prosecutors said Moreno had a motto that signaled the limits of his greed at the public trough: "I don't want to be a hog. I just want to be a pig. Hogs get slaughtered. Pigs get fat."

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