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Nine Named in Second Round of Indictments in ‘Operation Incubator’

May 15, 1987

CHICAGO (AP) _ A second wave of federal indictments has broken on Chicago government, accusing the powerful Circuit Court clerk and eight others of pocketing thousands of dollars in an influence-peddling scheme.

The 67-count federal indictment charged ″a wide-ranging conspiracy″ among the nine defendants to assist a New York bill collection agency, Systematic Recovery Services Inc., in its effort to obtain Chicago city contracts, U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas said.

Valukas stressed at a news conference that Mayor Harold Washington ″is not now, nor has he been, a suspect in this investigation.″

But the prosecutor said Washington and his administration ″ought to be considering how and why these problems occur, and passing legislation to see it doesn’t happen again.″

″The law will follow its course,″ Washington said later. ″We’ve done a good deal over the last few years to stave off any form of corruption.″

Among those indicted Thursday in the inquiry dubbed Operation Incubator were Morgan Finley, 61, clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court; former mayoral adviser Clarence McClain, 45; and former Aldermen Perry Hutchinson, 43; and Marian Humes, 52.

″Mr. Finley has already made his statement, and it still stands,″ said Peter M. Duel, a spokesman for the clerk, referring to a January 1986 statement in which Finley said he did not take payoffs.

Hutchinson said he was innocent of any wrongdoing. McClain said he would have no comment on the charges, and Ms. Humes could not be located for comment because there is no phone listing in her name.

The latest charges, which outline a scheme extending over two years, include conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, extortion and tax violations.

Said Valukas, ″In exchange for their secret assistance ... their promised use of influence and the misuse of their public offices, the defendants sought and received substantial cash payoffs and a variety of other tangible benefits″ from the bill-collection company.

Finley, chief administrator of the nation’s largest court system and the highest-ranking official indicted in the probe, is alleged to have received $25,000; McClain, $35,000; Ms. Humes, $10,000; and Hutchinson, more than $40,000 each.

Some of the services alleged to have been carried out to assist Systematic Recovery in gaining multimillion-dollar collection contracts include misrepresenting the results of surveys and studies, sharing non-public information about competitors with the New York firm, and seeking to influence office holders.

At the center of the 18-month undercover investigation was a convicted con man and swindler, Michael Raymond, who served as the high-rolling Chicago representative of Systematic Recovery.

Raymond, who used the alias Michael Burnett, became an FBI informant after being arrested in July 1984 on weapons charges and making a plea agreement with the government.

Raymond’s past includes a murder charge in Florida and several convictions for financial crimes. FBI investigators made audio and video recordings of many of his meetings with defendants.

Five of the seven people indicted last November, including former Alderman Clifford Kelley, have pleaded guilty or been convicted on charges ranging from extortion and mail fraud to income-tax and firearm violations.

Both Kelley and another defendant, Wallace Davis Jr., lost their aldermanic seats in April.