Chicago, IL- (ENEWSPF) – A federal grand jury today indicted Chicago City Alderman CARRIE M. AUSTIN and his chief of staff on corruption offenses for allegedly conspiring to receive home improvements from construction contractors seeking help from the city for a development project in Austin’s Far Quartier on the south side.
Austin, 72, of Chicago, is charged with one count of conspiring to use interstate facilities to promote corruption, two counts of using interstate facilities to promote corruption and one count of deliberately making false statements to the FBI. Austin Chief of Staff CHESTER WILSON JR., 55, of Chicago, is charged with one count of conspiracy to use interstate facilities to promote corruption, two heads of use of interstate facilities to promote corruption and one count of theft of government funds.
The indictment was released today in US District Court in Chicago. The arrests have not yet been scheduled.
The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Emmerson Buie, Jr., special agent in charge of the local Chicago office of the FBI; Anthony Mohatt, Special Agent in Charge of the US Department of Agriculture, Office of the Inspector General; Kathy A. Enstrom, special agent in charge of the IRS Criminal Investigations Division in Chicago; and Joseph M. Ferguson, Inspector General of the City of Chicago. The government is represented by Deputy US Prosecutors Andrianna Kastanek and Katie M. Durick.
According to the indictment, as of 2014, a construction company planned to build a residential development in the Austin neighborhood at a cost of approximately $ 49.6 million. Under an agreement with the city, the company was responsible for making infrastructure improvements as part of the project, including the construction of new interior streets, street lighting, landscaping and the improved sidewalks, and was eligible to receive more than $ 10 million in funding through tax increases and other payments from the city.
The indictment alleges that, as of 2016, Austin and Wilson received personal benefits from the owner of the construction company and other contractors for the purpose of influencing them in the course of their official duties. The benefits included home improvements, furniture and appliances for the Austin residence, as well as home improvement materials and services for rental properties owned by Wilson, according to the indictment.
According to the charges, in June 2017, a contractor for the development project paid an invoice for $ 5,250 to cover part of the purchase price of the kitchen cabinets at the Austin residence by falsely stating that the cabinets were intended for an address in development. Additionally, in July 2017, Austin accepted an offer from a contractor on the project to pay for two “brand new” and “expensive” sump pumps, and have the contractor’s family member purchase and to install a new dehumidifier, says the indictment. Wilson also sought benefits from a contractor on the project for his rental property, including “heating and cooling” services, according to the charges. In October 2017, the contractor told Wilson he would pay for part of a new HVAC system on Wilson’s property because “you are helping me a lot and I will help you,” the indictment reads.
The indictment alleges that Austin and Wilson authorized the spending of the Alderman menu funds to benefit the construction company for development infrastructure, and that on several occasions in 2017 and 2018, Austin stood down. coordinated with the owner of the construction company to request the city’s release of TIF and other Payments.
The theft charge against Wilson accuses him of engaging in a separate program to purchase discounted Supplemental Nutritional Assistance (SNAP) benefits. Wilson, who was not eligible for SNAP benefits due to his salary in the city of Chicago, allegedly obtained a card containing SNAP benefits by paying the beneficiary in cash less than the face value of the card, the report says. indictment.
The public is reminded that an indictment is not proof of guilt. Defendants are presumed innocent and have the right to a fair trial in which the government bears the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The counts of conspiracy, bribery and misrepresentation each carry a sentence of up to five years in federal prison, while the theft charge carries a sentence of up to one year. If convicted, the court must impose reasonable sentences under federal sentencing laws and the United States Sentencing Advisory Guidelines.