Pritzker to Return $330K in Property Taxes After Inspector General Report Made Public - NBC Chicago
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Pritzker to Return $330K in Property Taxes After Inspector General Report Made Public

The report said the Democratic candidate for governor earned property tax breaks in part by removing five toilets in the mansion next to his personal residence

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    Pritzker to Return $330K in Property Taxes After Inspector General Report Made Public

    A new report accuses Democratic candidate JB Pritzker of taking part in a scheme to defraud taxpayers. NBC 5 political reporter Mary Ann Ahern has the latest on how Pritzker is now responding. (Published Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018)

    Democratic candidate for Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker engaged in a "scheme to defraud" in order to receive more than $330,000 in property tax breaks on his mansion's in Chicago's Gold Coast, Cook County's inspector general said in report.

    The confidential report from Inspector General Patrick Blanchard to Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios said Pritzker received that sum in property tax refunds on the mansion next to his personal residence, located located at 1431 N. Astor St.

    His office said the money is in the process of being paid. 

    The Sept. 28 report recommended that Berrios try to recover the money from Pritzker, a billionaire venture capitalist and heir to the Hyatt hotel chain fortune.

    "Based on the information obtained during the investigation, our office determined that the [assessor’s office] received sworn affidavits containing false representations and placed significant reliance on the affidavits in deciding to grant a 10% vacancy factor for the property," the report concluded, adding that the "evidence indicates that the use of these affidavits was part of a scheme for obtaining money by means of false representations."

    "As a result, the County ultimately fell victim to a scheme to defraud, executed in part through the use of affidavits, and which resulted in the property owner ultimately receiving property tax refunds totaling $132,747.18 for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014, as well as additional tax savings of $198,684.85 for the years 2015 and 2016,” the report reads.

    The report also included an October 2015 email from a project manager to a plumbing company's vice president, asking for a plumber to "pull all toilets and cap all toilet lines in the house" at the direction of Pritzker's wife, M.K.

    "She is going to have the house re-assessed as an uninhabitable structure,” the manager wrote. A service ticket included in the report noted that five toilets were pulled and five supply lines were capped, with two toilets saved in the basement and the toilets "to be thrown away" placed in the garage.

    Ten days later, the report said an inspection was conducted at the property "for the purposes of preparing an appraisal report," which contained five references to a "lack of toilets" or "no functional bathrooms."

    The president of the appraisal firm said in an interview with investigators that he was unaware that the toilets were removed 10 days before the inspection, the report said, and that although appraisal is "not a science" but rather "a physical judgment based on opinion," he considered the property "unoccupied but functional and it could be habitable."

    As part of its investigation, the Inspector General's office examined whether Pritzker's relationship with Berrios - then the chair of the Cook County Democratic Party - allowed Pritzker to obtain the property tax breaks. The report stated that investigators found "no credible evidence to support the allegation."

    "This is a politically leaked report without new information," Pritzker said in a statement. "Instead of standing outside of JB Pritzker’s home, Pat Brady should be calling for an investigation into Sterigenics, a company Bruce Rauner owned that is emitting high levels of cancer-causing air pollution that is poisoning Illinois families. It’s time for Rauner to release all relevant Sterigenics records so that we can provide answers to the thousands of families who have been exposed to this poison."

    The inspector general's office did not respond to a request for comment.

    Gov. Bruce Rauner's campaign communications director called Pritzker's move to pay back the money "nothing less than an admission of guilt that he committed fraud." 

    “A bank robber who gives the money back is still a bank robber," Will Allison said in a statement.

    You can read the full report below:

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