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15th Judge Convicted on Greylord Charges

December 21, 1988

CHICAGO (AP) _ A judge convicted of tax evasion has become the 15th judge from the Cook County Circuit Court to be convicted or plead guilty on charges stemming from the Operation Greylord probe.

A U.S. District Court jury found Judge John J. McDonnell guilty Tuesday on three counts of tax evasion, but could not reach a verdict on two counts of extortion and one count apiece of racketeering and obstructing justice.

U.S. District Judge James H. Alesia declared a mistrial on those counts, and U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas said he would seek a retrial.

At a brief news conference after the verdict was announced, Valukas said he was convinced his staff had enough evidence to obtain McDonnell’s conviction on the remaining charges.

Valukas personally prosecuted McDonnell, with the aid of Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Durkin.

″There is no question in my mind,″ said Valukas, when asked if he thought it was worth prosecuting McDonnell again.

The jurors deliberated one hour Monday and most of the day Tuesday before returning the verdict against McDonnell, 53, a former federal prosecutor.

McDonnell, who was appointed to the bench in 1971, faces a maximum sentence of nine years in prison on the three tax evasion counts.

Since his indictment nine months ago, McDonnell has not sat as a judge, but has received his full judicial salary.

McDonnell was indicted by a federal grand jury March 16, along with retired Cook County Circuit Court Judge Francis J. Maher, Sr. The indictment accused the two of taking cash bribes to fix minor traffic, drugs and weapons cases, and of having steered such cases to certain lawyers.

McDonnell was also accused of extorting bribes from attorneys and telling them not to disclose the extortion to authorities, as well as of failing to report the alleged bribe money in his income tax returns.

Defense attorney Patrick Tuite said after the verdict that the government built its case on the testimony of three admitted bribe-paying former attorneys, whom he called ″sleazebags.″

The three, Bernard Mann, Cyrus Yonan and Karl Canavan, have all pleaded guilty to paying bribes to judges.

Operation Greylord, an undercover investigation of alleged corruption in the Cook County court system, was first made public by federal authorities in December 1983.

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