Suburban Attorney Draws 10-Year Sentence for Court Corruption
CHICAGO (AP) _ A lawyer described as a ″judicial hit man″ for passing more than $60,000 in bribes to Cook County judges was sentenced to 10 years in prison in the Operation Greylord corruption probe.
The sentence handed Wednesday to Bruce Roth, who was convicted on racketeering and extortion charges, was the longest given any of the 34 lawyers convicted in the continuing federal investigation, officials said.
″He was a judicial hit-man,″ Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheldon Zenner said in a telephone interview after Roth’s sentencing. ″He acted on behalf of corrupt judges to swoop down and try to get money from convicted defendants. It’s hard to find attorney conduct more outrageous.″
In addition to passing bribes, the 42-year-old man from suburban Highland Park was convicted of offering to help a defendant get his conviction reversed in exchange for a bribe, Zenner said.
Roth’s attorney argued at the hearing before U.S. District Judge Susan Getzendanner that Roth was a victim of a corrupt judicial system.
″You were not a victim,″ Getzendanner told Roth. ″The victim in this case was the criminal justice system. The damage to the system was enormous.″
Zenner said evidence showed that Roth, convicted of two counts each of racketeering and extortion, passed a $25,000 bribe to Cook County Circuit Judge Adam Stillo in 1983 to fix a narcotics case. Stillo found the defendant innocent at a bench trial, the prosecutor said.
Roth passed Stillo another $25,000 bribe in 1983 on behalf of someone convicted of a drug offense. The defendant was sentenced to probation, the prosecutor said.
A third defendant who sought Roth’s help could not raise $25,000 and was sentenced to six years in prison, Zenner said.
Stillo has not been charged in the Greylord case and is still a sitting judge.
″In my 23 years as a judicial officer, I have never done anything to cause a legitimate question to be raised regarding the integrity of my performance of public duty,″ Stillo said in a statement read by his attorney, William Hedrick.
The Greylord probe has led to 65 indictments with 60 convictions. Eight judges have been convicted, and one has been acquitted.