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Ex-Commissioner Moreno Pleads Guilty To Bribery Charges

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Former Cook County Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno has pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges, for allegedly taking kickbacks to direct business to county hospitals, and for backing a waste transfer station in Cicero.

Moreno, who lost his seat on the Cook County Board in 2010, was indicted last year alongside former Ald. Ambrosio Medrano, for scheming to use their influence to get John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County to buy bandages from Chasing Lions, a business owned by disabled veterans.

Three agents for Chasing Lions – Stanley Wozniak, Jerry Lombardi Sr., and Jerry Lombardi Jr. – allegedly agreed to provide Moreno and Medrano with kickbacks for every bandage the county bought from the company.

Moreno also allegedly pressured an unnamed company that does business with Cook County to hire Chicago Medical Equipment and Supply as a subcontractor on a county contract, while concealing the fact the subcontractor’s owner, Ronald Garcia, had given him a $100,000 home loan.

In exchange for getting the company to hire Garcia’s company, Garcia forgave the loan he provided to Moreno, according to a copy of Moreno’s plea agreement.

Moreno entered a guilty plea to those charges on Monday. In addition, he also admitted taking $5,000 in cash from a federal informant in 2010, in exchange for supporting the development of a waste transfer station in Cicero while Moreno was on the town’s economic development board.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 17.

Medrano was convicted last month for plotting to pay off a Los Angeles County official for a mail-order pharmaceutical contract with that county’s hospital system. He’s awaiting trial for his role in the Cook County hospital bribery scheme.