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By Anna Lothson
Former state Senator Rickey Hendon's campaign treasurer, along with six other people, were arrested on various corruption charges, July 17, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Hendon's ex-treasurer, Dean Nichols, of Oak Park, was among those named in the federal grand jury indictments. Nichols, 62, was charged with three counts of bribery conspiracy. Each count of conspiracy to commit bribery carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to the report, all seven defendants were arrested on July 17 and scheduled to appear that afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole in Federal Court in Chicago. The arrests and charges were announced by Gary Shapiro, acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D. Grant, special agent in charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney in Chicago, the seven are charged with bribery conspiracy for allegedly paying kickbacks to a federal agency official, who did not actually exist, in exchange for $25,000 cash grants from the agency.
Investigators said the defendants believed they could obtain multiple $25,000 grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in exchange for giving $5,000 to the fictitious HHS official and others involved in the scheme, according to the report. Nichols allegedly helped steer state grants to specific organizations in exchange for kickbacks.
The news release explains that Nichols was arrested following an undercover investigation involving a cooperating witness. Nichols reportedly informed him of the kickbacks.
Nichols allegedly helped steer state grants to certain organizations, including a $50,000 grant for an organization operated by his daughter in 2005-2006. He has also been accused of doing the same with a $190,000 grant to an organization operated by another defendant, knowing that a portion of the proceeds would go to Nichols and the state senator's nephew.
Multiple meetings were held between the cooperating witness, whom Nichols knew for more than 20 years, according to the affidavit, and in September 2011 there was a recorded meeting where Nichols allegedly provided the witness with 31 completed grant applications, with as many as 40 grantees. Nichols calculated that he and the cooperating witness personally could obtain $100,000 from those deals, the release details.
Nichols could not be reached for comment on the charges.