Ambrosio Medrano will spend the next 10.5 years behind bars for a bribery scandal involving selling bandages to Stroger Hospital. The judge denounced the crime as simple greed, but appeared to offer some leniency in his sentence because he accepted that Medrano was operating in a traditional Chicago fashion, at some level meaning to do good.
Pleading for mercy for a 2010 scheme to pay bribes and get kickbacks over a bandage contract with a supplier the hospital, the 60-year-old Medrano avoided the 14-17.5 year sentence prosecutors wanted in favor of 10.5 years, well below federal sentencing guidelines.
Judge Gary Feinerman lamented that evidence showed Medrano plotted the very day former Governor Rod Blagojevich was sentenced in his corruption trial.
Medrano's crimes, he said, "infect government operations (which) harms citizens who lose faith in the integrity of government even if no money changed hands. It is unacceptable to take or facilitate bribes."
Medrano cried often as family and friends, including his namesake son, and his wife, Mireya, testified to his character as a well-meaning family man and father figure to many in the Little Village neighborhood.
United States Attorney Christopher Stetler countered that as a repeat offender, Medrano sought to enrich himself at public expense. Stetler recounted wiretaps played at trial last year in which the former alderman, who was working for former Cook County Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno on the deals, commented that the scheme was part of Chicago's political culture where "hogs get slaughtered, but pigs get fat."
Outside court, the man who wanted to use the proceeds from the schemes to build a beach house in Central America repeated what he said to the judge.
"I am so sorry I acted foolishly, without thinking of the consequences," said Medrano. "I wish I could go back in time to correct my wrongs, but that is impossible. I apologize to all my friends that I disappointed, I apologize to my community and I apologize to my wife and children and the rest of my family," said Medrano.
"I would challenge anybody that says 10.5 years in prison is a light sentence to try to serve two days in prison," said defense attorney Gal Pissetsky.
Medrano must report to prison by March 21 and may end up at the Colorado facility where former Governor Rod Blagojevich is serving a 14-year sentence for corruption.
On Monday Medrano will be sentenced on a separate conviction for plotting with a Nebraska businessman to pay off a Los Angeles official for a mail-order pharmaceutical contract with the Cook County Hospital system.