CHICAGO (STMW) — A federal judge Wednesday sentenced former Cook County Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno to 11 years in prison in connection with bribes and other favors involving county contracts and a business deal in Cicero.
“There were so many schemes, over so long a period of time,” Judge Gary Feinerman said in handing down the sentence on Tuesday. “The conduct was so brazen. It was not an aberration. It was standard operating procedure.”
In sentencing below the lower end of the guidelines, Feinerman said he took into account Moreno’s age, the fact that he has young children, and that he has already lost so much — friends and reputation.
Last July, Moreno confessed to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion. He signed a plea deal in which he admitted to taking a $5,000 cash bribe from a company seeking to build a waste transfer station in Cicero, and to getting a $100,000 mortgage on his house erased in exchange for his influence in a county hospital contract.
He also confessed to seeking future favors in two deals. Federal authorities said Moreno wanted stock options for a company selling bandages to Cook County Hospital, plus $5 for each bandage sold.
In the Cicero matter, Moreno expected another $5,000 plus 10 percent of the transfer station’s profits, according to the plea agreement.
The crimes occurred in Moreno’s capacity as a county commissioner, an office he held from 1994 to 2010, and in his 2010 work as a member of Cicero’s Local Business Assistance Committee. His case was seen as a possible connection to other federal investigations in Cicero.
Following Moreno’s plea hearing, his attorney said his client had made no promises to develop evidence in other prosecutions.
Federal guidelines suggested a sentence of 14 to 17 1/2 years in prison.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)