Ex-Cicero employee testifies to ‘threat’ from Town President aide
BY STEVE WARMBIR Staff Reporter email@example.com July 11, 2011 8:16PM
Cicero town President Larry Dominick and his wife, Elizabeth, leave the Dirksen Federal Building, 219 S. Dearborn, in 2011. | Sun-Times files
Updated: July 12, 2011 2:07AM
A former Cicero employee testified in federal court Monday that a top aide to Town President Larry Dominick threatened him to get him to lie to help Dominick fire a political enemy.
The testimony came in the trial of Merced Rojas, who contends in a lawsuit that he was fired from the town in 2006 as a handyman because he is Hispanic and no longer supported Dominick politically.
Another former town employee, Jose Alejandro “Alex” Arista, said in court that a chief aide to Dominick, Frank Aguilar, pushed him to concoct evidence that Rojas did a private plumbing job for money when he was supposed to be working for the town.
Arista said Aguilar told him he had Hell’s Angels for friends and that “you know, if you don’t cooperate with this thing you could get harmed.”
Arista gave his testimony outside the presence of the jury. Jurors will likely never hear that part of his testimony because U.S. Chief Judge James Holderman ruled it was irrelevant to Rojas’ lawsuit.
Rojas’ attorney, Dana Kurtz, tried repeatedly to get some of that evidence before the jury, despite the judge’s ruling, prompting a tongue-lashing from the judge for “unprofessional” conduct.
Dominick’s attorney, Craig Tobin, called the alleged threats “utter nonsense,” dubbed Arista a disgruntled former employee and argued that Rojas’ attorney, Kurtz, has a “personal vendetta” against Dominick and the Town of Cicero.
Outside the courtroom, Kurtz said: “I’ve always prided myself on my professionalism, and we’re just trying to present all of the relevant evidence to the jury to make sure our client gets a fair trial.”