Court Rejects Appeal from Former Daley Aides

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's former patronage chief and two other former city officials have failed to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to consider setting aside their convictions for skirting laws that ban political city hiring.

In an order issued Monday, the justices declined to decide the case, allowing former patronage chief Robert Sorich's conviction and 46-month prison term stand. The court did not elaborate on the decision, although Justice Antonin Scalia said he had voted to accept the appeal and decide the case.

A jury convicted Sorich and two other former officials in July 2006 of using fake test scores and other illegal means to hide violations of a court order barring the use of politics as the basis for filling thousands of jobs on the city payroll.

Sorich, Timothy McCarthy and Patrick Slattery each were convicted of mail fraud. Former official John Sullivan was convicted of one count of lying to an FBI agent.

Sorich, McCarthy and Slattery appealed.

A federal appeals court in Chicago rejected defense claims that the three couldn't be convicted of fraud because they didn't take bribes or kickbacks -- upholding the government's claim that even if they didn't profit from the scheme, they defrauded the city of their "honest services."

While the appeal focused on the fraud statute, the trial mainly heard about Chicago's deeply entrenched patronage system.

Patronage -- filling city jobs with precinct captains and others who get out the vote for city leaders -- is an old Chicago tradition that has died hard.

Sorich was the No. 2 man in Daley's office of intergovernmental affairs but was widely known around City Hall as the patronage chief.

A 1973 court order was updated several times to bar using patronage as a basis for filling city jobs but has been largely ignored.

The case is Sorich v. U.S., 08-410.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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