The Chicago Syndicate: Ambrosio Medrano
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Showing posts with label Ambrosio Medrano. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ambrosio Medrano. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Details on Former Cook County Commissioner Joseph Moreno's Federal Prison Sentence

Former Cook County Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for engaging in a series of public and personal corruption schemes over a span of three years. Moreno pleaded guilty on July 1, 2013, to conspiracy to commit extortion after he was initially charged in late June 2012, about 18 months after he left public office.

Moreno, 61, of Chicago, a lawyer who served more than 16 years as an elected county commissioner until December 2010, was sentenced to 132 months in prison, and he was ordered to forfeit $100,000 and pay a total of more than $138,000 in restitution by U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman. Moreno was ordered to begin serving his sentence on April 21.

“Mr. Moreno was not a reluctant participant in these schemes; he was an eager participant,” Judge 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. . . . [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,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher J. Stetler and Megan C. Church wrote in a government sentencing memo.

Notably, they argued, Moreno conceived a motto of governing that captured his corrupt approach to public office: “I don’t want to be a hog. I just want to be a pig. Hogs get slaughtered. Pigs get fat.”

Moreno pleaded guilty to conspiracy to extort an unnamed company that was awarded a contract to help improve Cook County Hospital’s revenue cycle into using his friend and co-defendant, Ron Garcia, and his business, Chicago Medical Equipment & Supply, Inc., as a minority subcontractor in return for a $100,000 bribe. Garcia forgave a $100,000 mortgage loan to Moreno in exchange for Moreno’s efforts to steer the lucrative sub-contract to Garcia’s company, and Moreno tried to disguise the bribe by claiming that he had repaid the purported loan.

In pleading guilty, Moreno also agreed that he sought to obtain orders of Dermafill bandages from Cook County in return for kickbacks while he and his staffer, co-defendant and former Chicago Alderman Ambrosio Medrano, were Cook County officials; sought to obtain approval for a waste-transfer station in return for kickbacks while a Town of Cicero official; and evaded his federal income taxes between 2007 and 2010 by misreporting the income from his law office.

According to sentencing documents, between 2008 and 2010, Moreno engaged in those schemes, as well as five other schemes to:

  • enrich himself through kickbacks in return for passing a “green” resolution while a Cook County Commissioner;
  • obtain medical transcription business from Cook County in return for kickbacks concealed as legal fees;
  • obtain orders of Dermafill bandages from a private hospital by bribing a hospital official; enrich himself through kickbacks while a Town of Cicero official;
  • reduce his child-support obligations by suborning perjury during a court hearing.

Medrano, 60, of Chicago, the former alderman who later worked on Moreno’s countystaff, was sentenced last month to a total of 13 years in federal prison after pleading guilty in one case involving Moreno and being convicted at trial last year in a separate corruption case that stemmed from the same FBI undercover investigation.

Garcia, 54, of Homer Glen, and two other co-defendants, Gerald W. Lombardi, 61, of Darien, and his son, Jerry A. Lombardi, 34, of Downers Grove, who were agents of Chasing Lions, LLC, a disabled-veterans-owned business in Lisle that sold the Dermafill bandages, pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme and are awaiting sentencing. A sixth co-defendant, Stanley Wozniak, 51, of Chicago, is awaiting the disposition of charges.

The Moreno sentence was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Robert J. Holley, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and James C. Lee, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Michael DiFoggio, Key Government Informant, Committs Suicide

He was in tax trouble with the law.

His marriage was on the rocks.

His former pals in his mob-connected neighborhood had labeled him a “rat” for cooperating with the feds. And Tuesday night, it seems, it all got to be too much for Michael DiFoggio.

The 58-year-old — a key government witness who helped convict former Cook County Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno and former Ald. Ambrosio Medrano of corruption — shot himself in the mouth in the office of his Bridgeport plumbing business, authorities said.

Though DiFoggio’s passing immediately prompted speculation, police ruled out foul play, and his death was Wednesday ruled a suicide by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

His life had been falling apart for years.

Even as DiFoggio remarried in 2010, his tax problems were leading him to become an undercover FBI informant. Revealed by the Sun-Times three months before he pleaded guilty to tax evasion in October 2012, his cooperation meant he was ostracized in his tight-knit neighborhood, sources say.

Though he’d yet to be sentenced, his critical help for the feds meant he had a good chance of avoiding prison.That made him unwelcome at the Old Neighborhood Italian American Club, a hangout for businessmen and mobsters that his father co-founded, along with mob boss Angelo “The Hook” LaPietra. DiFoggio was told months ago that his membership wouldn’t be renewed.

At home, too, things were going badly. He’d been trying to sell his luxury house with indoor pool for $1.5 million, without luck. And less than two weeks ago, his wife, Fran Prado, filed for divorce.

His sad, final days were described in court papers she used on Monday to win an order of protection that banned DiFoggio from the family home on the 3700 block of South Normal.

According to Prado, DiFoggio recently canceled her credit card and took back her wedding ring, then — during an ugly argument that saw police called to their home Saturday night — shoved and grabbed her.

DiFoggio falsely told the cops that his wife had held “a butcher knife to his throat” and “had put poison in his ice cream,” Prado wrote, adding, “I fear that Michael will physically grab me again ...”

DiFoggio’s demise at 3126 S. Shields came after he’d had a phone conversation with his wife, sources said. It prompted fresh rumors about his cooperation with the feds and whether more indictments are expected.

“According to my clients on the street, there was a Second Act coming,” said prominent defense attorney Joseph “The Shark” Lopez, who has represented many organized crime figures.“There was actually a feeling that something else was about to happen — whether it’s true or not, who knows?”

Spokesmen for the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office both declined to comment.But there’s little doubt DiFoggio proved himself invaluable in his secret recordings of Medrano and Moreno.

Posing as a crooked developer willing to pay bribes to get a garbage transfer station located in Cicero, he, in December 2010, passed $5,000 to Moreno to grease the deal. Just months before, Moreno had been appointed to a Cicero business assistance committee by the town’s president, Larry Dominick.

At one point, Moreno told DiFoggio: “I don’t want to be a hog, I just want to be a pig. Hogs get slaughtered, pigs get fat.”

DiFoggio also helped snare Medrano in a health-care contracting sting last year.

Medrano’s lawyer, Gal Pissetzky, said that DiFoggio’s death left Medrano “shocked and saddened.”

Whatever DiFoggio did, “We’re all human beings,” Pissetzky said.

Thanks to Michael Sneed and Kim Janssen.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Former Cook County Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno and Former Chicago Alderman Ambrosio Medrano Among 8 Indicted for Alleged Corruption Scheme

Two former local public officials and five businessmen who were arrested last month on public corruption charges were formally indicted today for allegedly participating in one or more corruption schemes. A federal grand jury returned indictments against former Cook County Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno, former Chicago Alderman Ambrosio Medrano, and six others that mirror the charges filed last month in criminal complaints. One of the defendants is a businessman charged for the first time for allegedly engaging in an extortion scheme with Moreno during his tenure as an elected public official.

The new defendant, Ronald Garcia, 53, of Lockport, owned and operated Chicago Medical Equipment & Supply Co., which was certified by Cook County as a minority business enterprise (MBE). Between March 2008 and July 2009, Moreno and Garcia allegedly conspired to extort a company that won a county contract to force it to use Garcia’s company as a minority subcontractor.

The indictments also allege the following bribery schemes that were charged last month:

  • an alleged effort by Moreno, Medrano, and two Chicago area businessmen to use bribery and kickbacks to sell bandages to public hospitals, including Cook County’s John H. Stroger Hospital;
  • an alleged effort by Medrano and two other businessmen, including the owner of a Nebraska-based provider of prescription drug services that claims 11 million subscribers, to use bribery and kickbacks to obtain business from an unnamed out-of-state hospital system; and
  • Moreno’s alleged acceptance of $5,000 as part of a bribe to ensure development of a waste transfer station in suburban Cicero while he sat on a town economic development panel.

A 10-count indictment returned today alleges that Moreno, a Cook County commissioner for 16 years until 2010, and Medrano, the former alderman who later worked on Moreno’s county staff, accepted bribes in return for using their influence as county officials to steer public contracts to businesses. This indictment charges the alleged bribery schemes involving the contracts for bandages and the alleged extortion to hire Garcia’s company, as well as Moreno’s alleged Cicero bribe.

Moreno, also known as “Mario Moreno,” 59, of Chicago, was charged with three counts of bribery, two counts of wire fraud, and one count each of extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion. Medrano, 58, of Chicago, was charged with two counts of wire fraud and one count each of bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery. Moreno and Medrano were both released on secured bonds following their arrests last month.

Also charged in the same indictment were:

  •     Stanley Wozniak, 49, of Chicago; two counts of wire fraud and one count of bribery;
  •     Gerald W. Lombardi, also known as “Jerry Lombardi, Sr.,” 59, of Darien; two counts of wire fraud and one count each of bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery;
  •     Jerry A. Lombardi, Gerald Lombardi’s son, 33, of Downers Grove; one count of conspiracy to commit bribery; and
  •     Garcia; one count each of extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, and bribery.

Wozniak and the Lombardis—who were agents of Chasing Lions LLC, a disabled veterans-owned business in west suburban Lisle—were also released on bond following their arrests in June. All six defendant will be arraigned on dates to be determined in U.S. District Court.

The new allegations regarding Moreno and Garcia state that Garcia provided Moreno and his wife with a $100,000 home mortgage loan in July 2007. In November 2007, Cook County requested bids on a contract to assist county health facilities in reducing costs and increasing revenue. Company A submitted a bid that proposed using Garcia’s Chicago Medical company as a minority subcontractor, which was supported by Moreno. Company B submitted a bid that proposed using minority subcontractors but did not include Chicago Medical.

Moreno and Garcia allegedly conspired to use Moreno’s influence as a commissioner to take actions adverse to Company B’s attempts to obtain and maintain the county contract unless Company B used Chicago Medical as a subcontractor for that contract. During the time that Moreno allegedly was pressuring Company B, Garcia released the $100,000 mortgage even though Moreno had not fully repaid the loan. As a result of Moreno’s and Garcia’s actions, Company B paid Chicago Medical approximately $460,000, according to the indictment.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of approximately $100,000 from Moreno and approximately $460,000 from Garcia.

A second, single-count indictment was returned today against Medrano, James Barta, 70, of Fremont, Nebraska; and Gustavo Buenrostro, 49, of Arlington Heights, charging them each with conspiracy to commit bribery. Barta, the president and owner of Sav-Rx, a Fremont, Nebraska-based national provider of managed care prescription medication services; and Buenrostro, an associate of Barta and former employee of Sav-Rx, were also released on bond following their arrests. This indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to bribe an undercover FBI agent and a fictitious official of the “County A” hospital system—with Barta allegedly making a $6,500 payment to the undercover agent last month—to do business with Sav-Rx. Medrano, Barta, and Buenrostro will be arraigned on dates to be determined in this case.

The indictments were announced by Gary S. Shapiro, Acting United States Attorney for the Northen District of Illinois; Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Thomas Jankowski, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. The FBI’s Chicago City Public Corruption Task Force led the investigation with assistance from the Chicago Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division, a task force member.

In both cases, the government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher J. Stetler and Steven Grimes.

The charges in the indictments carry the following maximum penalties on each count: wire fraud, extortion, and extortion conspiracy—20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; bribery—10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; and conspiracy to commit bribery—five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The court may also impose a fine on the wire fraud counts totaling twice the loss to any victim or twice the gain to the defendant, whichever is greater. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The public is reminded that indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


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