CHICAGO -- Prosecutors were unable to convince a judge that a plot ever existed to assassinate Mayor Harold Washington, and a businessman charged with trying to hire a hitman to carry out the contract was acquitted.
Cook County Criminal Judge Thomas Malone said Tuesday tape-recorded conversations failed to prove that Lawrence Oberman, 39, tried to hire a hitman to kill Washington and ordered Oberman acquitted of a charge of solicitation to commit murder.
Maloney also attacked the credibility of the key prosecution witness, Oberman's cousin, who had testified against Oberman.
Oberman, who had been free on bond since his arrest last September following an undercover investigation aided by informant Keith Freeman, said he had learned one lesson from his six-day bench trial.
'To keep my big mouth shut,' Oberman said after the judge issued a directed verdict of acquittal at the request of Oberman's attorneys following the presentation of the prosecution's case.
Oberman, who still faces narcotics charges, expressed relief that 'a nightmare was over. It proves that the system works.'