Alderman Carothers Charged With Bribery, Fraud

Ike Carothers accused of taking $40,000 in gifts to help change zoning on Galewood Yards

Another local official has been charged with corruption.

Chicago Ald. Ike Carothers was indicted Thursday along with a real estate developer on federal fraud and bribery charges.

[Read Full Indictment (.pdf)]

Carothers was first elected to City Council in 1999.  At 54-years-old, he is chairman of the Chicago City Council's police and fire committee and alderman of the 29th Ward.

The developer, Calvin Boender, allegedly paid for about $40,000 in home improvements to Carothers’ residence and provided him with meals and tickets to pro-sporting events, including sky box seats at a 2005 White Sox playoff game. 

Carothers illegally accepted the gifts in exchange for supporting successful zoning changes for Galewood Yards, the largest undeveloped tract of land in the city, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.  The developer wanted Carothers' help to change the zoning on the land from manufacturing to residential and commercial use, according to the indictment.

Approximately $6 million more was made from the sale of 25 acres of the land than would have been realized without the zoning changes, and prosecutors claim Boender, 54, personally profited half that amount, or $3 million, according to an 11-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury today.

It’s also alleged that Boender obstructed justice by telling a witness going before the grand jury to say that he’d submitted bills to Carothers, which was not true, and faking paperwork to show that an invoice was presented to Carothers in the past.  Carothers is accused of failing to disclose the gifts and not including them on his taxes.

"If businessmen think they can advance an agenda by paying under-the-table benefits to an alderman, we will investigate them both," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said. "We would hope that anyone who would think about paying any amount of money to a public official … should think twice, because the consequences are very serious if proven."

The commercial and residential development today consists of a 14-screen movie theater, a Laborer’s Union Training Center and 187 single-family and multifamily residences in a neighborhood known as Galewood Crossings.

Carothers comes from a long line of Chicago politicians. His grandfather, Ike Sims, was Democratic Ward committeeman and an Illinois representative. His father, William Carothers, was an alderman in the 28th Ward, and was convicted in 1983 of conspiracy and extortion.

Ike Carothers released a statement, but wouldn't comment on the indictment, saying he had not seen the charges. He is expected to plead not guilty at his first court appearance, likely to happen next week.  His attorney said Carothers will not resign.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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