Ex-Cook County Commissioner Joseph Moreno going to prison

Feb. 19, 2014 at 5:04 PM
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CHICAGO, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- A federal judge Wednesday sent former long-time Chicago-area politician Joseph Moreno to prison for 11 years for corruption that includes extortion.

Moreno, 61, a lawyer who spent more than 16 years on the Cook County Commission, was ordered by U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman to forfeit $100,000 and pay more than $138,000 in restitution, the U.S. attorney's office said in a release.

Moreno pleaded guilty July 1 to conspiracy to commit extortion after he was initially charged in late June 2012, about 18 months after he left public office.

Moreno is to report to prison April 21.

"Mr. Moreno was not a reluctant participant in these schemes; he was an eager participant," Feinerman said, adding that Moreno "embraced them with gusto and pursued them with vigor."

Moreno "repeatedly pursued his own interests at the expense of those he was supposed to serve," Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Stetler and Megan Church wrote in a government sentencing memo. "[H]e extorted a reputable business and corrupted the highest levels of Cook County government, the town of Cicero and a private hospital. He also evaded taxes and suborned perjury so he could reduce his child support obligations.

"And when he was confronted about his crimes, he obstructed justice by providing the government with false invoices in an effort to conceal his criminal conduct."

The prosecutors said Moreno had a motto that signaled the limits of his greed at the public trough: "I don't want to be a hog. I just want to be a pig. Hogs get slaughtered. Pigs get fat."

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