Documents: Carothers working with federal gov't

May 28, 2009 (CHICAGO) Federal documents show Carothers was also working with the government, secretly recording conversations with other public officials.

Even though he was indicted by the federal government, Carothers was working with the feds for a year. A court document unsealed Thursday says Public official A, the evidence points to that person being Carothers, had been consensually recording conversations with individuals suspected of engaging in ongoing criminal activity. The recorded conversations include meetings with other public officials and real estate developers.

Who is on those recordings and what they said is the federal government's secret for now, but it has surprised council members, not necessarily for fear they said something incriminating on tape, but more because they were recorded by a fellow alderman in the first place.

When asked what council members thought about that, former alderman and city clerk Jim Laski responded, " I think what council members think about is, 'When was the last time I talked to Ike Carothers?' and 'When I talked to him, what did I say?' 'Did I say anything about zoning?', and 'I hope I didn't say anything that would be incriminating.'"

Laski did time for accepting a bribe and is now working on his second book about a fall from grace and the dark side of Chicago politics. Part of that dark side has traditionally involved decisions on zoning.

Carothers pushed for a rezoning in his West Side ward that led to business and residential development in an old industrial tract, and in return, the government says, the project's owner and developer paid for $40,000 in home improvements to the alderman's home.

Many of Carother's colleagues on the city council were unwilling to speak with ABC7 Chicago Friday. There was no comment from Ald. Emma Mitts, whose ward straddles the Galewood Yards redevelopment.

Council zoning committee chair Bill Banks announced earlier in May that he's leaving the council, a retirement he says is not related to any investigation.

Laski says he thinks the Carothers investigation is not over.

"I think alderman Carothers has been providing information, if he's been working with them for a year, probably some fertile information. So, this is going places. Yes, I think this goes on and on and on," he said.

Federal prosecutors would not comment beyond what was in the indictment against Carothers and developer Calvin Boender. Both men are scheduled to be arraigned Monday June 8.

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