Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ike Carothers Pleads "Not Guilty"

Chicago Ald. Isaac Carothers could change corruption plea as soon as next month, his lawyer says
Longtime Daley ally denies bribery for allegedly accepting $40,000 in improvements to his home
By Jeff Coen

Tribune reporter

June 9, 2009

Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th) pleaded not guilty to corruption charges in federal court Monday, but his attorney said Carothers could change his mind by as soon as next month.

Carothers, a longtime ally of Mayor Richard Daley's, appeared relaxed during his first appearance in federal court since his indictment in late May. Wearing a dark suit, he sat in the first row of the courtroom gallery with his legs crossed waiting for his case to be called.

His lawyer, Lawrence Beaumont, entered a plea of not guilty for him. But after the hearing, Beaumont said Carothers could change that plea once the government starts turning over evidence in the case. Beaumont said he and Carothers could know which option to take -- including a guilty plea -- by as soon as the next status hearing in the case, scheduled for July 7.

Court documents filed in the case have pointed to Carothers' cooperation in the federal probe and indicate he has secretly taped other public officials. There was no mention of that cooperation in court Monday.

Beaumont declined to discuss the situation directly, but he was asked whether Carothers has been treated fairly in light of what appears to be his decision to help investigators looking into zoning irregularities.

"I believe Mr. Carothers has been treated very fairly. I don't think we have any complaint about how we're treated," Beaumont answered.

Carothers is charged with mail and wire fraud as well as bribery for allegedly accepting about $40,000 in improvements to his home. The government also says Carothers accepted meals and tickets to sporting events in exchange for supporting zoning changes for a valuable piece of undeveloped property in his ward.

The developer who allegedly paid the bribe, Calvin Boender, also pleaded not guilty Monday.

The only other sign of what appears to be Carothers' cooperation in the case was the disparity between the bonds the two men received.

Carothers was released on a $4,500 recognizance bond, while Boender's release was secured by $3 million in property.

"Obviously in this case, [the reason] they've made those decisions on behalf of my client is that he's the least culpable," Beaumont said. "Obviously, they're not concerned that he's a flight risk or that he's a danger to the community."

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