Former Todd Stroger aide guilty of theft, money laundering
BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN Criminal Courts Reporter August 28, 2013 3:16PM
Updated: September 30, 2013 7:45AM
An ex-aide to former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger was found guilty Wednesday of theft and money laundering but cleared of several counts of financial crimes and official misconduct charges.
The verdict in the public corruption case — accusing Carla Oglesby of steering more than $300,000 in phony county government contracts to her own company and her pals — comes nearly three years after she was arrested while pulling out of a downtown parking garage, leaving work for the day.
While Judge James Linn conceded prosecutors did not “connect all the dots” in their claims against Oglesby, he said Stroger’s former deputy chief of staff — and onetime campaign spokeswoman — willingly partook in the “classic money-laundering” scam. Stroger is not accused of any wrongdoing.
Hearing about the theft of taxpayers’ dollars was “eye popping, disheartening and shocking,” Linn said before rendering his verdict in the bench trial.
Linn also found Oglesby, 44, guilty of unlawful stringing of bids.
Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Robert Podlasek said Oglesby was at the “heart” of the scheme that was greased through with the assistance of Eugene Mullins, Stroger’s childhood friend and onetime chief media spokesman.
Defense attorney Anthony Schumann insinuated that it was Mullins who was at fault — not Oglesby.
But Podlasek argued: “Make no mistake, Carla Oglesby came to the county to take as much money [as she could] for herself.”
Oglesby and Mullins, who is facing federal charges related to the case, only stopped their wrongdoing when reporters started asking questions, he said.
Mullins’ attorney, Brunell Donald Kyei, countered Schumann’s argument Wednesday night, saying, “Eugene Mullins was the media spokesman for the president. He was not the guy signing checks. He didn’t have any power to create any contracts. He didn’t even have the power to approve any contracts.”
Oglesby was operating a small-time public relations firm CGC Communication in 2009 when Stroger tapped her to be his spokeswoman in his re-election bid. He lost the February 2010 primary, but Stroger kept Oglesby on his payroll as his $120,000-a-year deputy chief of staff until days after her arrest.
A few weeks ago, Schumann said that Stroger would take the stand for the defense, but on Wednesday he rested without presenting any witnesses. Stroger could not be reached for comment.
Following the verdict, Oglesby told reporters she had “nothing to say” as she embraced family and friends.
Schumann added, “Obviously we’re very disappointed.”
Oglesby, who remains free on bond, faces six to 30 years in prison.
Contributing: Lisa Donovan