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Colorful federal mole John Thomas to plead guilty in Riverdale scheme

John Thomas his wife Lori leave federal building after bond hearing. | Phoby Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

John Thomas and his wife Lori, leave the federal building after a bond hearing. | Photo by Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

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Updated: June 10, 2014 6:55AM



Fraudster John Thomas admitted Thursday he violated his conditions bond — which included a visit to a mistress while he was under house arrest — and will turn himself in to U.S. Marshals and plead guilty next week to a scheme involving south suburban Riverdale.

Thomas, 51, will turn himself in on Monday to federal authorities and plead guilty to charges next week on Friday that he stole $370,000 of taxpayers cash from Riverdale.

The slick con man has broken almost every single rule U.S. District Judge James Zagel set for him as a condition of his freedom.

But the final straw may have been Thomas’s decision to slip out from under house arrest at his downtown condo on Monday to meet with his mistress, who he allegedly tried to persuade not to testify against him by offering to buy her a house and a car and promising he’d leave his wife for her.

Thomas even asked his dentist to write him an excuse note to cover the secret tryst.

On Thursday afternoon, Zagel said until Monday, Thomas needs to stay at his home.

"I really want him to stay at home," Zagel said.

A former federal mole, Thomas was spared prison for a billboard scam he pulled off in New York in the late 1990s after he wore a wire against disgraced political fundraiser Tony Rezko.

In 2012, Riverdale village officials backed him with $900,000 in tax increment financing to redevelop the blighted Riverdale Marina.

Instead, Thomas looted the funds for his own benefit, according to charges filed last month. And boat-owners who left their boats under Thomas’ care say the boats were stripped of their motors and other expensive parts when they came to collect them.

Prosecutors have been playing a cat-and-mouse game with Thomas since his arrest.

They say his long history of colorful scams — including an alleged attempt to pay his former attorney with fake Babe Ruth baseballs — mean he’s a “financial danger to the community” for as long as he stays free.

Zagel had previously imposed several strict conditions on Thomas, including an order that he remain inside his downtown condo under the supervision of his long-suffering wife.

Thomas was also barred from doing any business deals worth more than $500, banned from sending emails, using the Internet or any phones.

Prosecutors say he violated each and every one of those rules. He boasted about a recent real estate deal that netted him $150,000, used “Google TV” to get around the Internet ban and adopted the pseudonym “Joe Momma” while using his mother’s phone and a text messaging service, the feds allege.



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