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Cook County Official Charged In Alleged Financial Crimes Investigation

Chicago, IL–(ENEWSPF)–October 5, 2010.  A top governmental aide and former campaign employee to the President of the Cook County Board has been charged with multiple felony crimes alleging she rigged a series of “sham vendor contracts,” and as a result collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money for work that was never performed, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced today.

Carla Oglesby, 41, of Chicago, has been charged with Theft of Government Property (Class X felony), Money Laundering (Class 1 felony) and Official Misconduct (Class 3 felony) in connection with the State’s Attorney’s ongoing financial crimes investigation into the awarding of a series of so-called “24-9” contracts by the Office of the President of the Cook County Board.

The charges carry a minimum term of imprisonment of six to 30 years, without the possibility of probation.

Oglesby, who serves as Deputy Chief of Staff to Board President Todd Stroger, was arrested by State’s Attorney Investigators late Monday afternoon.  She appeared in court today where bond was set at $250,000.

According to prosecutors, Oglesby participated in awarding or approving payments for over a dozen no-bid, sole-source contracts with purported communications companies.  Several of these companies were incorporated with the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office after the contracts were signed and payments were made to each of these companies prior to any work being performed under the contracts.  At this time in the investigation, the loss to Cook County from these contracts is estimated at more than $300,000, according to prosecutors.

“This case should send a strong signal that there are extremely serious penalties for anyone who steals public money in Cook County.  Our message today to anyone in county government who has any knowledge or information about these schemes is this — you should come and talk to us now before we come to talk to you.”

Oglesby worked as a spokesperson for Stroger’s re-election campaign before she was appointed by Stroger as his Deputy Chief of Staff on Feb. 12, 2010.  In her official capacity with the President’s Office, Oglesby was given contractual signature authority for all departments under the control of the Office of the President, a power that had not been granted to the previous individual who had held the same position, according to court filings.

According to prosecutors, Oglesby engaged in a scheme to award contracts to two companies that she owned or had previously controlled in amounts just under $25,000, in an attempt to circumvent county ordinance regulations that require approval of the Cook County Board of Commissioners for personal service contracts that exceed $25,000.

CGC CONTRACT

Just two weeks after she was hired by the county, Oglesby had already engineered a plan to be paid as a consultant and her company, CGC Communications, had received a check in the amount of $24,975.00.

According to court filings, the Executive Director for Cook County’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management signed a justification letter on Feb. 24, 2010, seeking a no-bid, sole source contract between the county and CGC Communications for a federal disaster relief grant “to inform county residents of grant funds available” for residents who had been adversely affected by severe flooding.   The letter stated that CGC Communications would “work with the Department of Public Affairs and Communications, the Office of the President and the Board of Commissioners to strategically implement media tactics to reach affected homeowners.”

But no such work was ever performed by Oglesby or her company, despite the fact that the county check was received, cashed and that Oglesby used the funds to pay company business expenses as well as making cash withdrawals from the company account, according to prosecutors.

ARREI CONTRACT

The following month, on March 26, 2010, the Cook County Comptroller issued a check in the amount of $24,995.00 to a company by the name of ARREI Management.  According to records from the Illinois Secretary of State, ARREI Management had been a limited liability corporation until its involuntary dissolution in 2007 and Carla Oglesby had been the president and owner of the company.

According to court filings, the Executive Director of the Department of Environmental Control signed a justification letter on March 18, 2010, seeking a no-bid, sole source contract between the county and ARREI Management to “work with the Office of the President, the Board of Commissioners, the Department of Public Affairs and Communication to build awareness of the composting and electronic collection programs to help residents, business and other local governments become more energy efficient and conscious of conservation initiatives.”

But no such work was ever performed by the company, despite the fact that the county check was deposited into the company’s account, which at the time had a zero balance and had been inactive for months, according to prosecutors.  After the check was deposited, on six occasions between March 31, 2010, and April 9, 2010, funds were transferred electronically out of the ARREI account, including five electronic transfers totaling $14,800.00, into the accounts of CGC Communications which were personally controlled by Oglesby.

In addition to the CGC and ARREI contracts, prosecutors allege Oglesby participated in awarding or approving payments for more than one dozen other no-bid, sole source contracts.  Payments were made to each of these companies prior to any work being allegedly performed under the contracts.

The public is reminded that criminal charging documents contain allegations that are not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the state has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

Source: statesattorney.gov

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