A Chicago alderman has rejected a plea deal and will stand trial next year on federal corruption charges.
Ald. Willie Cochran was accused in December 2016 of looting a 20th Ward fund meant to help children and senior citizens, using $5,000 to pay his daughter’s college tuition and withdrawing $25,000 from ATMs near his preferred casinos. The former Chicago Police officer was also accused of accepting bribes from businessmen who needed favors from him.
“I believe plea negotiations have broken down,” Christopher Grohman, Cochran’s attorney, said at a hearing Wednesday morning in U.S. District Court. “They communicated an offer. He has decided not to accept it.”
Prosecutors agreed with Grohman’s request, and trial date was set for June 3. It is expected to last two weeks.
The 15-count indictment handed down in 2016 includes bribery and wire fraud counts. Cochran did not file petitions to seek re-election to the Chicago City Council; 15 candidates did file petitions to seek his 20th Ward seat.
The conviction adds Cochran to a list of 35 sitting or past alderman convicted of crimes since 1973.
A year ago, Cochran collapsed during City Council budget hearings. Eleven days later, he returned to City Hall and declared he would not seek re-election.
• Lawyer: Ald. Cochran ‘thinking about’ guilty plea, not thinking re-election
• Brown: Ald. Cochran’s ‘off the books’ fund exposes deeper problem
• Ald. Cochran charged with looting fund meant for kids, seniors
Contributing: Jon Seidel
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November 28, 2018 at 11:02AM