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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Politics and temptation: The Willie Cochran indictment

Another day, another politician indicted in Chicago. This time it's Ald. Willie Cochran, 20th, accused of extorting money in exchange for supporting two real estate projects and a liquor store in his ward. Federal prosecutors say he also dipped into a charity fund to pay for his daughter's college tuition costs and to cover his gambling expenses. The money was supposed to be spent on ward activities, such as a back-to-school picnic, a Valentine's Day party for seniors and holiday season events.

A retired Chicago police sergeant, Cochran was elected in 2007 to represent the South Side ward, which includes parts of Back of the Yards, Washington Park and Englewood. The previous alderman, Arenda "What do I get out of it?" Troutman, pleaded guilty in 2008 to corruption charges for shaking down developers.

Cochran is charged with multiple counts of extortion, bribery and wire fraud. Prosecutors say he misspent tens of thousands of dollars, including $25,000 withdrawn from ATMs near casinos where he was gambling.

Federal prosecutors are never underemployed in Illinois. Last month, former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock of Peoria was charged with spending campaign money on concert tickets, luxury hotels and private plane rides. He pleaded not guilty on Monday.


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