Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Junior's Light Sentence Proves He's Not Very Important

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    NEWSLETTERS

    I’m sure Jesse Jackson Jr. was happy to get off with only two-and-a-half years in prison for looting his campaign fund of $750,000. It’s a pretty light sentence for stealing so much money.

    But maybe Junior should have been insulted.

    He didn’t get a lot of time because, frankly, he’s not very important. He’s a mere congressman, from the minority party, not part of the leadership. Not the kind of guy a U.S. Attorney can make his name prosecuting.

    As the list below shows, the higher the office, the longer the sentence. Rod Blagojevich, a governor, got 14 years for stealing nothing. At the bottom of the list are jamoke aldermen, such as the 26th Ward’s Stanley Zydlo, who was convicted of bribery -- offering a bribe. 

    “No alderman had less clout,” Mike Royko wrote of Zydlo in 1983, in a column on which ethnic group could boast the most convicted aldermen. “To show how little, he is still the only alderman convicted of giving a bribe instead of taking it. He dropped $1,000 to make sure his nephew and son-in-law would pass their fire department physicals. The other aldermen were embarrassed for him.”
    The judge embarrassed Zydlo, too, by giving him only six months.
    Rod Blagojevich, governor, 14 years
    George Ryan, governor, 6-½ years
    Thomas Keane, chair of City Council Finance Committee, 5 years
    Mel Reynolds, congressman, 5 years
    Fred Roti, alderman/mobster, 4 years
    Otto Kerner, governor, 3 years
    Percy Giles, alderman, 3 years
    Jesse Jackson Jr., congressman, 2-½ years
    Dan Rostenkowski, congressman, 17 months
    Cliff Kelley, alderman, 1 year
    Joseph Potempa, alderman, 1 year
    Lawrence Bloom, alderman, 6 months
    Frank Kuta, alderman, 6 months
    Stanley Zydlo, alderman, 6 months