Ex-top aide to Todd Stroger guilty on 7 corruption counts
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter September 18, 2013 1:54PM
Eugene Mullins standing behind his attorneys at the Dirksen Federal Building after being found guilty on 7 of 8 counts in his corruption trial on Wednesday, September 18, 2013. | Chandler West/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 20, 2013 7:32AM
They barked like dogs, brought invisible, imaginary children to meet jurors and promised to, then thought better of, calling Cook County Board President Todd Stroger to the stand.
But all of Eugene Mullins’ lawyers’ theatrical tricks couldn’t save Mullins on Wednesday afternoon, when a federal jury found Stroger’s pal and former spokesman guilty of seven counts of bribery and wire fraud.
Mullins, a 49-year-old South Sider and former Chicago cop, had a brief moment of hope as Judge Amy St. Eve announced a “not guilty” verdict on the first of the eight charges he faced. But his lawyers slumped into their chairs as three guilty verdicts for wire fraud and four guilty verdicts for bribery quickly followed, meaning Mullins faces up to 20 years behind bars when he is sentenced in December.
Evidence at his week-long trial showed he pocketed nearly $35,000 in kickbacks in return for steering four $25,000 county contracts to unqualified pals who never planned to do the work taxpayers were paying them for back in 2010.
Prosecutor Lindsay Jenkins said the U.S. Attorney’s Office was “going after corruption in Cook County” and was “pleased with the verdict.”
But Mullins’ attorney Brunell Donald-Kyai repeated her claim that Mullins was innocent and was being punished for refusing to turn on and provide false testimony against Stroger, who Mullins says was the feds’ real target.
“This case was always about Todd Stroger — I’ve said that from the beginning,” Donald-Kyai said in the lobby of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse after the verdict was announced.
“This isn’t any different from Roman times when people went through trials for political reasons,” she said adding that she stood by her decision not to call Stroger, who she’d earlier vowed would testify.
Mullins testified in his own defense last week but showed little emotion as the verdict was announced and later declined to comment. Stroger also did not return calls seeking comment.
Mullins’ lawyers — who said they worked for free because they believed so strongly in Mullins’ innocence — brought dramatic flair to what was in essence a dry corruption case, presenting Mullins as holding the same values as he did when he was 7-year-old “Little Geno,” an imaginary boy they pretended to parade around the courtroom during opening statements.
During closing arguments, Donald-Kyai compared the case against Mullins to the “big lie” Adolf Hitler describes in “Mein Kampf,” adding, in a strange aside, that the evidence against Hitler was far stronger than the evidence against Mullins.
She barked and meowed for jurors in an attempt to mock the four associates who turned against Mullins and testified for the government that they’d paid him kickbacks.
Gary Render, Michael Peery, Clifford Borner and Kenneth Demos all agreed to plea deals that spared them from jail time in return for their cooperation.