Mayor of Cicero, Ill., Indicted
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CHICAGO (AP) _ The town president of Cicero and nine other people were indicted on mob-related corruption charges that accuse them of diverting $10 million from the town’s insurance program.
Town President Betty Loren-Maltese and the others were charged in a 17-count indictment, including charges of racketeering conspiracy, fraud and money laundering. The money was siphoned through an insurance consulting firm run by a former Internal Revenue Service official between 1992 and 1997, officials said.
``They used their mob connections to turn the town of Cicero into a personal piggy bank,″ U.S. Attorney Scott Lassar said in a statement.
Some of the money was used to purchase a golf course in Wisconsin and a horse farm in Indiana, the U.S. attorney said.
``The Cicero candy store is closed,″ said Kathleen McChesney, head of the FBI’s Chicago office.
Officials at the Cicero town hall could not immediately be reached for comment. A recorded message said the town offices were normally closed on Friday.
Corruption has plagued Cicero, a blue-collar suburb west of Chicago, since the 1920s, when mobster Al Capone made it the capital of his bootlegging empire.
In May, a federal jury awarded $1.7 million to two former Cicero police officials who were fired after helping the FBI in an investigation of possible corruption there.
The jury found that the town of Cicero unfairly fired David Niebur as police chief and Philip Bue as deputy chief, and that Loren-Maltese and former town counsel Merrick Scott Rayle hurt the men’s job prospects by focusing a spotlight on the firings.
In the last three years, two former detectives were convicted of taking payoffs to fix investigations, the former town clerk was convicted of pocketing parking meter payments, and the former town collector admitted asking an FBI mole for a bribe.
Loren-Maltese’s husband pleaded guilty to mob-related gambling charges in 1992. In the Republican primary this year, she defeated a former police chief indicted on charges that he conspired to embezzle $75,000 in police funds.
She went on to win a landslide victory in April against Democrat Joseph Mario Moreno.
Last December, Moreno was arrested by Cicero police on drunken driving charges on the way home from a party and promptly labeled it ``a smear job.″ The charges were quickly dropped for lack of evidence.
Later, Loren-Maltese followers announced that Moreno was a wife beater and deadbeat dad. The claim was based on decades-old court papers that were discovered to pertain to a different man named Moreno.