County inspectors accused of taking cigarette tax bribes
BY LISA DONOVAN Cook County Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org October 20, 2011 6:38PM
Two Cook County revenue investigators have been fired for allegedly accepting bribes from convenience stores and other outlets selling cigarettes without paying the local tobacco tax. | Getty Images
Updated: November 22, 2011 8:40AM
Two Cook County revenue investigators have been fired for allegedly accepting “thousands” of dollars in bribes — hush money from convenience stores and other outlets selling cigarettes without paying the local tobacco tax.
That’s according to a new report released Thursday by Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard, who launched an investigation earlier this year after the Revenue Department passed along a tip they received about the bribery scheme.
Blanchard would say little about the probe, which is ongoing, but did he say the men “admitted their role when faced” with the allegations. One investigator even turned some of his ill-gotten gains in to Blanchard’s office.
Blanchard said the scheme cost untold thousands of dollars in lost revenues for the county.
The shakedowns unfolded when revenue investigators checked on retail outlets selling cigarettes, according to Blanchard’s report. Vendors not paying the cigarette tax faced hefty fines but avoided that altogether by paying off investigators.
The investigation comes as County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Sheriff Tom Dart crack down on retail outlets selling cigarettes without paying the tax.