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Berrios Accused Of Breaking Patronage Rules

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Joseph Berrios

Joseph Berrios speaks to Cook County workers and elected officials after being sworn in as the new Cook County Assessor on Dec. 6, 2010 (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) – The recently-elected new Cook County assessor is being accused of breaking the rules on patronage hiring.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bob Conway reports, an attorney says Joseph Berrios has hired or fired 27 people in violation of a the federal Shakman decree, which prohibits patronage hiring.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Conway Reports.

When Berrios hired two relatives and a friend, he claimed all were put in jobs exempt from the patronage ban, as were 13 people he fired.

But the Chicago Tribune reports that government documents show that not to be the case.

Berrios insists he cleared things with human resources officials and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, and says that while some job titles may have changed, the jobs did not

Attorney Brian Hays says he intends to pursue the matter.

Berrios’ son, Joseph “Joey” Berrios, and his sister, Carmen Berrios Cruz, now work for him in the Assessor’s office. They also worked for him when he served previously on the Cook County Board of Tax Review.

“They’ve got experience, and I’m hiring people with experience,’’ Berrios told the Chicago Sun-Times last month.

Carmen Berrios Cruz is making $86,000 a year as director of taxpayer services. Joey Berrios is making $48,000 a year as a residential property analyst.

Berrios is not only the County Assessor. He is also head of the Cook County Democratic Party and the 31st Ward Committeeman.

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