Willie Cochran, former Chicago alderman, sentenced to 1 year in prison

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Former Chicago Alderman Willie Cochran was sentenced to one year and one day in prison Monday morning.

Cochran, elected to the City Council in 2007, admitted to taking $14,000 from a 20th Ward charity he founded to help seniors and children. Prosecutors said he used the money to pay for his daughter's tuition, home expenses and gambling at an Indiana casino.

"It was an unorthodox way of doing things but it is not something that I would say is corrupt," Cochran said.

Cochran was indicted for shaking down businesses, wire fraud and bribery. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud last March and resigned as alderman.

"We have a very stubborn public corruption issue in the city of Chicago and we've seen that historically and we've seen that happen here with this case with former Alderman Cochran," said John Lausch, US Attorney at United States Attorney's Office for The Northern District of Illinois.

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Former Chicago Alderman Willie Cochran was sentenced to one year and one day in prison Monday morning.

Prosecutors said over a four-year period, the former alderman withdrew more than $64,000, but could only prove a portion of the withdrawals were used for his personal gain. Cochran's lawyers said that's not true and asked for probation and six months on home incarceration.

Cochran said he now regrets pleading guilty and called his sentence unfair. He compared his case to former Congressman Aaron Schock, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign money to fund a lavish lifestyle but got no jail time.

"You let one man walk out with $800,000, with no charges, and an agreed-upon $14,000 with me ends up with a year in jail." Cochran said.

"Totally separate case. Every single investigation and prosecution we look at separately based on, and we resolve those based upon the facts and circumstances of those cases," Lausch said.

Prosecutors said that sending Cochran to prison should deter others from similar temptation to do wrong. He vowed to rebound.

"This is a bump in the road, we will come back, and get everything back that the devil stole from us," Cochran said.

The judge ordered Cochran to report to prison by 2 p.m. on August 23. The judge also sentenced Cochran to two years of supervised release.

Cochran is Chicago's 30th alderman to be convicted of crimes related to official duties since the 1970s.
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