Boender found guilty of bribery, obstruction

March 19, 2010 4:36:05 AM PDT
A guilty verdict was handed down late Thursday against a developer charged with bribing a Chicago alderman in exchange for a zoning change.

Calvin Boender was found guilty on all five counts of bribery and obstruction of justice in connection to bribing then Alderman Ike Carothers in order to win support for a big West Side real estate project.

The prosecutors were confident in their case, thanks to a strong witness and a paper trail.

Boender and his attorney walked out of the courthouse without a comment.

"How he did it was he paid somebody to provide home improvement work for the alderman at the same as he was looking for zoning favors from the alderman," said Brandon Fox, assistant U.S. attorney.

Six years ago, Boender owned a 50 acre piece of property on the West Side in Carothers' ward. The land, known as 'Gateway Yards,' was used as an illegal dumping site. Boender was anxious to develop the property into residences and a movie theater for a huge profit but he needed a zoning change. The city wanted the land to be industrial. Boender won Carothers' support by paying a contractor to perform $40,000 worth of improvements to Carothers' home.

Much of the case was about the relationship between Boender and Carothers but the alderman wasn't called as a witness. The prosecutor said they didn't need to.

"The general contractor who performed the work on Alderman Carother's house testified on behalf of the government. We also had...evidence, the checks that went to pay not only the subcontractor but another contractor. So, our evidence showed that the money all went back to Calvin Boender," said Fox.

Boender was also found guilty of obstruction of justice. Prosecutors say Boender got an associate to lie to the grand jury and also drew up a fake invoice to make it look like Carothers was billed for the home improvements.

"When a defendant endeavors to give false information to a grand jury, to interfere with a federal criminal investigation that's going to come back on that defendant and only strengthen the government's case of the ongoing bribery as well," said Manish Shah, assistant U.S. attorney.

Boender was also convicted of making illegal campaign contributions to Ike Carothers' aunt who ran for Congress.

Boender faces jail time and will be sentenced at a later date.