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Former Stroger aide gets 6½ years for theft, money laundering

CarlOglesby 2011 | Sun-Times files

Carla Oglesby, in 2011 | Sun-Times files

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Updated: May 25, 2014 3:33PM

Carla Oglesby, a top aide to former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, worked under the guise of a public employee but was a “predator” who illegally lined her pockets with taxpayer money, prosecutors said.

“She came to work for herself. Her job was to steal as much money as possible before the end of the Stroger reign,” Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Podlasek said before Oglesby was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison Wednesday for steering $325,000 in phony county government contracts to her own company and her pals.

“Let’s not make any mistakes. This was a crime of clear intent. From the time Oglesby contacted Stroger’s office to offer her professional services until she maneuvered the last of the money through convoluted accounts and sources to hide it, this has been about Oglesby intentionally raiding money from the community chest.”

Oglesby’s attorney Anthony Schumann sought probation for the divorced mother, saying that his client had been unfairly singled out by prosecutors.

Judge James Linn, however, noted since Oglesby, 44, was convicted of felony theft and money laundering, the law required him to put her behind bars.

The bespectacled Oglesby, who appeared in court with a purple top and short hairdo Wednesday, was also convicted of unlawful stringing of bids following a bench trial last summer. She was acquitted of several counts of financial crimes and official misconduct charges.

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.

But a six-figure salary “wasn’t enough,” Podlasek said Wednesday as roughly half dozen of Oglesby’s family and friends looked on in Linn’s courtroom.

Podlasek went on to describe the 56-day period in which Oglesby cobbled up 13 fraudulent contracts as the “rape of Cook County.”

Prosecutors have contended that Oglesby was at the “heart” of the scheme to “enrich her own coffers” with the assistance of Eugene Mullins, Stroger’s childhood friend and onetime chief media spokesman.

“The only goal was to enrich themselves at our expense, at your honor’s expense,” Podlasek told Linn.

“And worst of all, she [Oglesby] did it in a county where poverty and crime are sadly pervasive,” Podlasek said.

Mullins was sentenced to four years for his role in the crime in federal court last month.

Stroger was not accused of any wrongdoing.

Linn, acknowledged the numerous letters Schumann submitted supporting Oglesby’s character, but he also said her actions tied to the case were “sad.”

“As a citizen of Cook County, I was astonished and taken aback at the feverish pace of wasting and spending grant money,” the judge said.

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