CHICAGO — The chairman of the Chicago City Council's police and fire committee pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he accepted home repairs worth $40,000 plus campaign money and sports tickets in exchange for fixing a zoning case.
Alderman Isaac Carothers, 54, appeared briefly before U.S. Magistrate Judge Morton Denlow and was allowed to remain free on $4,500 bail.
Speaking to reporters outside court, his attorney, Lawrence S. Beaumont, would neither confirm nor deny that Carothers was cooperating with federal prosecutors in a corruption investigation.
Beaumont said Carothers would continue representing his 29th Ward while under indictment. "He has been representing it very effectively," Beaumont said.
Carothers declined to comment.
Court papers filed earlier say an unidentified individual wore a hidden microphone to make secret recordings at the request of prosecutors. The individual was not identified but the description in the court papers fit Carothers closely.
According to a May 28 indictment, Carothers was key in changing the zoning of a 50-acre undeveloped site on the city's West Side. In exchange, he allegedly got $40,000 worth of painting, windows, doors and other home improvements. He also allegedly got meals and tickets to sporting events as well as campaign money for his ward organization and for a relative who was running for Congress.
Authorities allege that developer Calvin Boender paid the bribes. He also pleaded not guilty and was freed on $3 million bail.
The alderman's father, William Carothers, was convicted of federal corruption charges in the early 1980s.