I-Team Report: On Betty's Account

February 11, 2010 4:48:16 AM PST
Even though Betty Loren-Maltese helped steal $12 million from the town's taxpayers, some in Cicero are actually helping the soon-to-be ex-con. The clock on Betty Loren-Maltese's release from Bureau of Prison's custody is down to 48 hours.

Friday morning the former Cicero town president will have served seven years for racketeering - the price she paid for siphoning millions of taxpayer dollars in a mobbed-up insurance scheme.

"To run a town like Cicero you have to be tough," Loren-Maltese said in 2001.

Betty Loren-Maltese once circled Town Hall with shark-like intensity.

In 2010 though, Cicero looks different. The old building has been replaced by a strikingly sleek structure and, the current government's leaders say, a cleaner system than old.

But like the genetics of the great white shark, some things here never change. Consider a document obtained by the ABC7 I-Team that shows that Betty Loren-Maltese -who stole $12 million in a corrupt Cicero health insurance deal- to this day still has health insurance courtesy of the town of Cicero.

Larry Dominick is Cicero's town president, twice removed from Betty's regime. In an exclusive interview with the I-Team, Dominick confirms that the insurance record is correct: all elected officials in Cicero, present and past, felons or non-convicts, get free health coverage for life.

Goudie: "Should convicted felons still receive free health insurance for their former employer?
Dominick: I don't want to say...I don't want to say, ya know...I don't get into those, that department, every department head runs their own department."

And through the departments, even though Betty Loren-Maltese went to prison for public corruption, she still has a hard core of support.

The former director of Cicero's planning and community development department, Anna Maria Montes De Oca-Rojas, sent out a memo last month from her personal email account; "I am reaching out to you on behalf of our good friend Betty Loren-Maltese. She is asking us for any financial help," writes the ex-director. "Things are getting pretty rough as she is reaching her final days at the halfway house."

"If they want to use their own money, that's fine, whatever they want to do with their money," said Dominick.

The email asks recipients to please send postal money orders to the Bureau of Prisons' halfway house in Las Vegas, where the former Cicero town president has spent the last six months of her seven years in federal custody.

"Just like anyone else, when they serve their time, they come out, they should be able to make a living, do what they have to do to survive," said Dominick.

When Loren-Maltese comes out on Friday, she is expected to come to a Salvation Army halfway house on Chicago's West Side. She doesn't have to stay there and will be free and clear of being incarcerated. But she has received the OK of Federal Judge John Grady to live in the halfway house during her four months of probation.

Loren-Maltese convinced the judge that she was broke and had no where to live. The feds having seized her home in Cicero, along with houses in Indiana and Las Vegas, and her investments.

The current Cicero president told the I-Team he'd welcome her back.

"Wherever she wants to live, it's a free country. She wants to come here, that's fine. I don't hold no grudges against her," said Dominick.

Ms. Loren-Maltese did not respond to the I-Team's questions sent to her by e-mail. Ms. De Oca-Rojas told the I-Team in a statement that she merely sent the fundraising request to her friends because Betty Loren-Maltese asked her to, and that she is unaware of how much, if any, money was forwarded to the ex-president.

Sources in Cicero Town Hall say a former top aide to Betty Loren-Maltese sent her a cell phone and laptop computer to use in preparation for her release and homecoming.