Former Chicago Ald. Ricardo Munoz was sentenced to 13 months in prison Thursday for spending thousands of dollars from a political fund he chaired to buy iPhones, sports tickets and clothes, among other personal items.
U.S. Judge John Kness also ordered the former alderman to 18 months supervised release following his time incarcerated.
"What I did was wrong. I am ashamed. I am a convicted felon. I stand before the court, remorseful. I humbly ask for leniency," Munoz, 56, said in an emotional statement before the court.
Last year, Munoz was charged with 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering, and subsequently pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $38,000 from the political fund.
Prosecutors alleged in the indictment released last year that between October 2016 and June 2020, Munoz, who chaired the Chicago Progressive Reform Caucus, used the coalition's political action committee to transfer funds to his own accounts and made cash withdrawals for his personal use and then lied about it on financial disclosure forms.
In October 2016, prosecutors said Munoz transferred $16,000 to a joint account he held with a family member to make a university tuition payment for an unnamed person. Authorities allege he then transferred that same amount back into the CPRC's account and told another individual the initial transfer did not need to be reported to election officials on campaign finance disclosure forms because the money had been deposited back in.
Prosecutors said in October 2018, Munoz made electronic transfers of $5,000 and $2,100 from the CPRC to his own bank account and used that money "for his own personal use and benefit," the indictment said.
Days later, prosecutors alleged he made another transfer of $2,300 from the CPRC account to his own campaign account and then transferred that money to his personal bank account without authorization, telling someone in an email that it was for "Election Day expenses" when it was for personal use.
The indictment also said Munoz made six cash withdrawals from the CPRC account between Nov. 3 and Dec. 7, 2018, that totaled $10,560, intending to use that money for personal benefit, again telling someone in an email that several of those withdrawals did not have to be reported because funds had been transferred back in, even though they had not.
Prosecutors also allege that Munoz used the CPRC debit card to make several personal purchases from November 2018 through February 2019: $544.98 on a Southwest Airlines ticket, $169.32 on Los Angeles Kings tickets, $291.44 in charges for a stay at the Los Angeles Crowne Plaza hotel, $265.77 at Eddie Vs Restaurant and $160.48 for items purchased from Lover’s Lane, according to the indictment.
The indictment alleged he also "fraudulently used CPRC funds to pay for, among other things, jewelry; cufflinks; a loan payment on one of Munoz's personal vehicles; women’s clothing; three Apple iPhones and accessories; aerial sightseeing trips; sports tickets; skydiving excursions; and other entertainment expenses."
Munoz was alderman for the city's 22nd Ward from 1993 through 2019, when he chose not to run for reelection. He first took office when then-Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed him to replace now-Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who had left City Council for the Illinois Senate.
The Southwest Side ward includes parts of the Little Village, South Lawndale and Archer Heights neighborhoods.