In letter to judge, Ald. Austin praises convicted Stroger aide
BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN Criminal Courts Reporter April 24, 2014 2:31PM
Updated: May 26, 2014 6:26AM
Months before Carla Oglesby was to be sentenced for theft and money laundering, Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) penned a letter in support of the felon who once served as a top aide to former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.
“Carla Oglesby consistently demonstrates a well-rounded sense of dedication and delightfulness. She is a gentle personality and always shows a genuine willingness to help others,” Austin wrote in her Jan. 8 letter to Judge James Linn.
Linn sentenced Oglesby to 6 1/2 years in prison Wednesday for steering $325,000 in phony county government contracts to her own company and her pals while working for Stroger.
Oglesby — as Stroger’s spokeswoman for his re-election bid in 2009 and later his deputy chief of staff — was at the “heart” of the scheme that was greased with the help of Eugene Mullins, Stroger’s childhood friend and onetime chief media spokesman, prosecutors said.
Mullins is serving a four-year federal prison sentence for his role in the crime.
Austin, who serves as chairman of the City Council’s Budget and Government Operations Committee, said she has known Oglesby in both “professional and personal capacities” for more than four years.
In her letter, which appears on City Council letterhead, Austin also said of her friend: “Ms. Oglesby likewise affords definitive care and attention in all she indulges by going beyond the call of duty to achieve successful outcomes. To the best of my knowledge, I most appreciate her warmth, strong faith, sound character and obvious humility.”
Oglesby had previously done some work at the alderwoman’s Lemuel Austin Youth Foundation for underprivileged children, according to one of the 37 “character reference” letters, requesting Linn for leniency before Wednesday’s sentencing.
Austin could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.
Most of the letters presented to Linn were written by Oglesby’s relatives and friends who described her as a dutiful mother, daughter and sister.
Oglesby, the eldest of four children, is known in her family for organizing her parents’ milestone anniversaries and her clan’s reunions in the South.
“She makes sure that the younger people serve plates to the older people as a sign of respect,” her uncle Carvell Coleman Jr. said in his letter.
Prosecutors, however, had harsher words for Oglesby, 44.
Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Podlasek called her a “predator” and described the 56-day period in which she cobbled up 13 fraudulent contracts as the “rape of Cook County.”