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Clout contractor drops out of deal over IRS troubles

Jack Higgins with his wife MarthHiggins then-Mayor Richard M. Daley charity event 2005. | Sun-Times file

Jack Higgins with his wife Martha Higgins and then-Mayor Richard M. Daley at a charity event in 2005. | Sun-Times file

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Updated: December 26, 2013 6:18AM

Two months ago, the Illinois Medical District Commission picked Jack Higgins, a politically connected developer with close ties to former Mayor Richard M. Daley, to develop a $175 million project on the West Side.

On Friday, Higgins abruptly walked away from the deal over questions about his personal finances — including $2.5 million he and his wife owe the Internal Revenue Service.

Higgins and his team had made a 15-minute presentation Wednesday to the medical commission — a government agency run by the state of Illinois, Cook County and the city of Chicago — as it was preparing to sign a contract with his company for the project, a nine-acre office, retail and apartment development.

“The Illinois Medical District Commission has not executed and will not be executing any contract with Higgins Development Partners to develop the property at 2020 West Ogden Avenue,” commission spokeswoman Heather Tarczan said in an email Friday. “The commission was in the process of conducting its standard, pre-contract due diligence on this developer when the issues of Mr. Higgins’ personal finances came to light. Once these issues were brought to our attention, we asked Higgins Development Partners to withdraw their proposal and they have.”

Higgins’ withdrawal came two days after the Chicago Sun-Times asked the commission about the developer’s IRS debts.

Higgins and his wife, Martha Higgins, owe the IRS more than $2.5 million in income taxes for 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to three liens the federal government has filed with the Cook County recorder of deeds office.

Also, Chase Bank filed a foreclosure suit last spring against Higgins, his daughter Bridget Higgins McCarthy and her husband Kevin McCarthy after they defaulted on a $1 million mortgage on the couple’s North Side home. Chase dropped the suit in August.

Bridget and Kevin McCarthy were with Daley nephew Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko when authorities say he fatally injured David Koschman during a drunken confrontation on April 25, 2004. Vanecko and another friend, Craig Denham, took off in a cab, and the police stopped Bridget and Kevin McCarthy, who at first denied knowing Vanecko and Denham. Bridget McCarthy identified Vanecko during an interview with detectives on May 13, 2004, a week after Koschman died of brain injuries.

The case remained an unsolved homicide in January 2011, when the Sun-Times began an investigation that led to the appointment of a special prosecutor, Dan K. Webb, and Vanecko’s indictment for manslaughter.

The McCarthys were granted immunity from prosecution to testify at Vanecko’s trial, set for Feb. 18.


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