Friday, February 18, 2011

More corruption in zoning

One final illustration of the shenanigans up in Chicago relating to Alderman Troutman, who pled guilty to political corruption charges in August 2008. These small vignettes are in the 7th Circuit decision upholding the conviction of her office deputy after she pled guilty.The 7th Circuti decision was released last December.

Douglas Greer owned property located at 5843 South State Street near Troutman's aldermanic office, and he began renovating that property without obtaining the required permit from the City. In Spring 2002, Boone saw Greer renovating that property, and approached Greer, identifying himself as Alderman Troutman's assistant. Boone informed Greer that it was illegal to renovate a building without first obtaining a permit, but assured him that if Greer was willing to “take care of the office” then he could proceed without the permit. Greer understood that as a request for payment of a bribe to the office, but he chose not to pay it at that time. Within a week, Boone returned to the property with the police and attempted to have Greer arrested. The police, however, refused to arrest Greer for the failure to obtain a permit. A few days after that incident, Greer went to Troutman's office and spoke with Boone, who informed him that for a $10,000 cash payment he would be allowed to proceed without a permit. Greer negotiated that amount down to $8,000, and paid it out of drug proceeds he had obtained as a drug dealer. He later received a receipt from Troutman's office for a “campaign contribution” in an amount significantly less than the $8,000 he had provided. After paying the bribe, Greer was able to proceed with the renovation of the property unhindered and without any permit.
Boone requested a second payment from Greer in Spring 2003. At that time, Greer had completed the renovation of the property, and intended to use the first floor as a hair salon. He discovered, however, that it was necessary to get the property rezoned in order to use it for that commercial purpose. In order to obtain that rezoning, Greer testified that he needed a letter of support from the alderman's office. Greer met with Troutman, Troutman's sister and brother, and Boone at the office. Boone then stated that in order to obtain the letter Greer would have to pay $15,000 to the office. Greer again negotiated a lower amount, this time $12,000, and subsequently made two cash payments of $6,000 each. The day after making the second payment, Greer retrieved the letter of support from the office.
As part of the procedure for obtaining that rezoning, Greer sent a mailing to the neighbors in the area informing them of the request. That mailing and the scheme that it furthered forms the basis for the mail fraud conviction.

Up in Chicago, Troutman is best known for saying "Well, the thing is, most politicians, most alderman, are hos."

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