Former Chicago alderman pleads guilty in third corruption case
BY JON SEIDEL Staff Reporter September 24, 2013 10:52AM
Former Ald. Ambrosio Medrano
Updated: October 26, 2013 6:18AM
Now that former Ald. Ambrosio Medrano has pleaded guilty in a third corruption case, he thinks he should go to prison for about two years — maybe less.
Federal prosecutors want to send him away for 20.
In the end, it will fall to U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman to sentence on Jan. 10 arguably the most corrupt former member of the Chicago City Council.
On Tuesday, Feinerman told Medrano, “You and the government have a dramatically different view” of how he should be sentenced.
Feinerman made the comments as Medrano stood beside his attorney dressed in a dark suit. Medrano also answered calmly when the judge asked him questions, including whether the allegations he planned to plead guilty to were true.
“As far as I’m concerned, yes your honor,” Medrano said.
Moments later, Medrano pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
The former alderman, 59, had already secured his place in Chicago’s political hall of shame last June when he became the first current or former member of the City Council convicted in two separate, prior corruption cases.
In this third case, he admitted his role in a scheme to take bribes and kickbacks to sell bandages to public hospitals, including Stroger Hospital. He was charged with fraud, bribery and conspiracy in a new indictment last week. Also charged was co-defendant Stanley Wozniak, who has pleaded not guilty.
Former Cook County Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno also was caught up in the scheme and pleaded guilty in July.
Prosecutors said they plan to drop all remaining charges in the new indictment against Medrano. There was no plea deal, however, and they told the judge Medrano should go to prison for nearly 20 years.
Medrano’s attorney, Gal Pissetzky, said he thinks a more appropriate sentence would be between 21 and 27 months.
Medrano did a stretch in federal prison starting in 1996 for taking bribes while a Chicago alderman.
He also was convicted earlier this year by a federal jury for conspiring to dish out bribes to snare a lucrative Los Angeles County medical contract in a yearlong scheme starting in 2011.
He is scheduled to be sentenced in that case Nov. 4, records show, and prosecutors have filed papers arguing that conviction should net him five years in prison. They called him “incorrigibly corrupt.”
“In a state that has earned a reputation for having its share of corruption,” they wrote, “defendant Ambrosio Medrano stands out.”
A Chicago Sun-Times investigation this month, meanwhile, found the Town of Cicero hired a Medrano-owned company to run local festivals in 2009. Cicero was supposed to get 25 percent of the liquor sales, but the town could not produce a single document showing it ever got a penny.
Nobody has been accused of wrongdoing in the Cicero deal, and the town canceled the contract the day Medrano was arrested for the health-care scams. Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed Cicero records in connection with Medrano’s company.
Medrano has declined to talk about that deal, and standing outside the federal courtroom Tuesday where he entered his latest guilty plea, he again chose not to talk to reporters.
Just moments earlier, the judge reminded Medrano, free on bond, of the consequences he’d face if he missed his sentencing hearing in January.
Medrano tried to put the judge’s mind at ease.
“I have no intention of going anywhere,” Medrano said.