CHICAGO (AP) -- A Chicago alderman was indicted Thursday on federal fraud and bribery charges for allegedly accepting $40,000 in home improvements from a developer in return for supporting a zoning change for the city's largest undeveloped tract of land.
Alderman Isaac "Ike" Carothers allegedly supported the rezoning of a 50-acre former rail yard and industrial site on Chicago's West Side, sought by developer Calvin Boender, the 11-count indictment said. Boender also was charged in the alleged scheme, which prosecutors said included giving Carothers meals and tickets to sporting events.
Half of Galewood Yards was rezoned and sold for $6 million more than it could have been otherwise, with Boender making about $3 million, prosecutors said. It now includes a 14-screen movie theater, a union training center and 187 single- and multi-family homes.
"Using public office to obtain personal financial benefits violates the public trust and we will continue to vigilantly investigate and prosecute both corrupt public officials and businessmen who see to profit by corruption them," U.S. District Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said.
Carothers' office issued a brief statement saying Carothers won't talk about the charges because he hasn't seen the indictment.
According to the indictment, in the summer of 2004, Boender paid for improvements to Carothers' home, including painting, new windows and exterior doors and central air conditioning. He allegedly directed a contractor to make the improvements but not charge Carothers. Then in September of that year, Boender sought a zoning change to develop the land for residential and commercial use.
Carothers allegedly introduced ordinances to rezone the property, and voted in favor of them in 2007. He also allegedly filed a false statement to the city, failing to disclose the gifts from Boender, prosecutors said.
Carothers, 54, was charged with wire and mail fraud, accepting a bribe and filing a false federal income tax return. Boender, 54, was charged with wire and mail fraud, obstructing justice, violating federal campaign finance laws and paying a bribe.
The indictment seeks the forfeiture of $40,000 from Carothers and $3 million from Boender, as well as his financial interest in the development.
Carothers joins a long list of Chicago aldermen who have been indicted. In February, former Alderman Arenda Troutman was sentenced to four years in prison for taking thousands of dollars in payoffs and campaign money from developers while she was on the council.
Carothers, whose father also was an alderman, was elected to the City Council in 1999. Two years later, he was appointed chairman to the council's powerful Police and Fire Committee.
He has been a vocal critic of Police Superintendent Jody Weis, calling him before the committee and grilling Weis about statistics that have suggested officers were not aggressively fighting crime.
He previously working as an investigator with the Cook County Public Defender's Office, before being appointed as superintendent with the city's water department in 1989. Four years later, he was appointed as Director of Internal Audit for the city's park district.