Contractor with Blagojevich links pleads guilty

August 22, 2011 3:30:08 PM PDT
Anita Mahajan, a Chicago businesswoman with ties to former governor Rod Blagojevich, pleaded guilty to bilking the state of Illinois by submitting bogus bills.

"I'm sorry," Mahajan said in court Monday while pleading guilty to felony theft for pilfering about $100,000 in taxpayer money through her drug-testing company, K.K. Bio-Science. That company is now defunct.

The 60-year-old received four years of probation, agreed to pay $200,000 in fines and perform 1,500 hours of community service.

Mahajan's husband, Amrish, was a banker and significant fundraiser for Blagojevich. Also, Blagojevich's wife, Patti, made more than $100,000 in commissions handling real estate deals for the Mahajans in 2006, which caused a stir in the Blagojevich re-election campaign. The following year, Mahajan was charged with cheating the state of out of $2 million for drug tests that were never performed.

"People of this state were being cheated," Dick Devine said in 2007 when he was the state's attorney while announcing a seven-count indictment against Mahajan. The attorney general sued to recover the state's lost money.

Four years later, Mahajan pleaded guilty to a single, reduced charge of theft instead of the felonies that would have sent her to prison for at least six years.

"Anita Mahajan is another example of the collateral damage that's been left in the wake of the Rod Blagojevich Tsunami," Steve Miller, Mahajan's attorney, said.

Miller is a former veteran assistant U.S. Attorney who says that in 2007 Cook County prosecutors brought what he calls an unprofessional, widely overshot case against Mahajan because of something else they really wanted.

"We were explicitly told by the state's attorney's office -- prior to indictment -- that if she could provide evidence on Patti Blagojevich or the governor, she would never be prosecuted with a crime," Miller said.

According to Miller, an unnamed prosecutor said in 2007 that if Mahajan would not cooperate, we'd "bleep her."

The state's attorney's office - in a written statement released Monday - said that Miller is apparently finding fault with the handling of this case under the previous administration and that the current state's attorney "remains pleased with the outcome," which has Mahajan paying more than $200,000 in restitution for a crime that she chose to plead guilty to.

The defense sees it differently.

"Four years later all that emerges from this is a probationary sentence and repayment of money, which would have been resolved easily through civil disposition," Miller said.

Miller said he believes prosecutors would not have been able to prove the case at trial, but before a jury there's an element of risk, which is why his client chose to accept the plea deal. The restitution to the state also means that the attorney general will drop her million dollar civil case against Mahajan.

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