They’re All Connected

Politicians love playing games–with the truth, with taxpayers’ money, you name it. So why not play a game with politicians? See if you can put these rascals behind bars–in 1998 they all pleaded guilty or were convicted or sentenced.

DIRECTIONS: Take turns drawing a line between two dots. Players who complete an empty prison window get five points. Players who complete a window, including bars, around a convicted politician get ten points. The player with the most points wins. But then, we all win when greedy betrayers of the public trust are removed from society, don’t you think?

Prisoner 1998-1

Larry Bloom, former alderman. Government tapes show that the City Council’s Mr. Clean needed a good scrubbing. The biggest catch for the federal Silver Shovel investigation, Bloom shocked former colleagues and City Hall watchers when, just before his December trial, he pleaded guilty to lying on a tax return–and admitted taking $14,000 in bribes from government mole John Christopher. Christopher gave Bloom $10,000 for his unsuccessful run for county treasurer, and Bloom asked for fake names to disguise it as campaign contributions. When Christopher offered to include the names of dead people, Bloom replied, “The more dead the better.”

Prisoner 1998-2

Thomas Fuller, former president of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. “You see me crying?” Fuller asked reporters after his Silver Shovel conviction in March for racketeering, extortion, and fraud. “No, because I don’t feel like I did anything wrong.” But the jury had decided it was wrong to take $9,000 in bribes from government mole John Christopher–$4,000 in a pack of cigarettes and $5,000 in a McDonald’s bag. Still, Fuller’s lawyer contended his client was innocent because, although Fuller had admitted taking the money, he never actually had done anything for Christopher. Sentenced to 37 months in prison.

Prisoner 1998-3

Allan Streeter, former alderman. Known variously as “Judas” and “pimp” among

colleagues for becoming the first alderman to ever wear a wire. Streeter was sentenced in June to eight months for extortion in yet another Silver Shovel case. He pleaded guilty to snaring over $37,000 in bribes from an undercover FBI agent and government mole John Christopher. He went beyond the call of duty, instructing the agent in the art of political corruption, saying, “Stick around, young man, you’re learning.”

Prisoner 1998-4

John Madrzyk, former alderman. You think you hate the holidays? Picture the Madrzyk family Christmas: Madrzyk’s daughter-in-law pleaded guilty in July ’97 to ghost payrolling and agreed to testify against pop. Madrzyk waited until just before his May ’98 trial to plea-bargain and admit that he’d “led her astray.” He put five ghosts on City Council committees, netting them $132,000 in salaries and himself thousands in kickbacks. He was sentenced in September to three years and five months in prison. Back in 1992 when city clerk Walter Kozubowski was indicted on 21 counts of extortion and ghost payrolling, many City Hall denizens were nervous. Not Madrzyk, who said: “You don’t have anything to worry about if you’re honest.”

Prisoner 1998-5

Edward Rosewell, former Cook County treasurer. Left office November 25 with a champagne toast from his staff, then headed over to the federal courts building and pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud. Which was quite a bargain, since Rosewell was originally charged with giving ghost payroll jobs to state representative Miguel Santiago and state senator Bruce Farley, plus giving a “semi-ghost” job to his roommate, a former window washer who started at Rosewell’s office in a $35,000 clerical position and wound up less than a year later making $63,616 as deputy treasurer.

Prisoner 1998-6

Bruce Farley, outgoing state senator. Plea-bargained his case too, pleading guilty to mail fraud and admitting he collected $173,752 for his ghost job.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration by Ivan Bruneti.