Indicted alderman pleads not guilty

June 9, 2009 4:31:04 AM PDT
The chairman of the Chicago City Council's police and fire committee has pleaded not guilty to charges he accepted home repairs worth $40,000 plus campaign money and sports tickets in exchange for fixing a zoning case. Alderman Isaac Carothers, 29th Ward, appeared briefly before U.S. Magistrate Judge Morton Denlow on Monday and was ordered freed on a $4,500 unsecured bond.

Authorities allege that developer Calvin Boender paid the bribes. He also pleaded not guilty and was freed on a $3 million bond secured by real estate.

Alderman Carothers, 29th Ward, is chairman of the Chicago city council's police and fire committee

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His attorney wouldn't confirm it but court papers indicate Carothers cooperated with federal investigators looking into corruption at City Hall.

Ike Carothers plea is not guilty, but that could change in less than a month's time. His attorney said today there are other options - including the possibility of a guilty plea - once he's had a chance to study what the government has on Carothers, and what Carothers did to help the government.

Ike Carothers is free on bond, free to continue serving as 29th ward alderman, and head of the city's council's police and fire committee, but how long that continues is not clear.

After entering a formal not guilty plea on Monday morning, Carothers' attorney suggested that plea could change once he's had a chance to see the detail in the government's case.

"We can go to trial is we choose to, depending on the evidence, we could attempt to plead guilty. We could do all kinds of things," said Larry Beaumont, Carother's attorney.

Carothers is accused of accepting gifts and $40,000 in improvements to his own home from real estate developer Calvin Boender who also entered a not guilty plea on Monday morning. In return for the gifts, prosecutors allege that Carothers used his aldermanic weight to bring about a zoning change that allowed Boender to build new homes and businesses in a former manufacturing district in Carothers' ward.

No one, at this point, is discussing Carothers' cooperation with the government, or how it came about, but court documents suggest that Carothers, for as long as a year, was secretly recording possible targets of the investigation - as well as others - meaning quite probably other city officials.

What's on tape, and where it might lead are - for now - government secrets.

But Carothers attorney says he ultimately will have to weigh the evidence and his client's liability before deciding the next step.

"I've instructed my client not to make any statements. All the talking is from me," said Beaumont. "He wants to say a lot of things, I'm sure, but that's what he's paid me to do."

Carothers' next court status date is July 7. If his plea is going to change, it'll probably be known by then if not before.

Developer Calvin Boender is free on a $3 million bond. The government says that's the amount of profit he made from the zoning deal in Carothers' ward.


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