CHICAGO (CBS) — The communications chief for former Cook County President Todd Stroger was indicted on Thursday, accused of steering county business to friends.

In return, Eugene Mullins, 48, demanded kickbacks from those deals, totaling $34,700, federal prosecutors said. The four contracts awarded to four different associates were each just under $25,000.

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Mullins, who was director of the Cook County Department of Public Affairs and Communications between March 2008 and November 2010, was arrested today.

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The four individuals who allegedly received county contracts and returned a portion of the payments to Mullins were each charged for allegedly concealing Mullins’ alleged crimes.

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Mullins was charged with four counts of wire fraud and four counts of soliciting kickbacks in a 12-count indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury yesterday and unsealed today when he appeared in U.S. District Court.

He pleaded not guilty and was released on his own recognizance.

The four co-defendants were not arrested and will be arraigned later: Gary Render, 43, of Chicago; Michael L. Peery, 51, of Chicago; Clifford Borner, 45, of Chicago, and Kenneth Gregory Demos, 50, of Oak Park.

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At various times in 2010, the indictment alleges that:

  • Mullins schemed to fraudulently steer a $24,980 disaster grant contract to Render, who returned $9,000 to Mullins;
  • Mullins schemed to fraudulently steer a $24,985 energy grant contract to Peery, who returned $12,000 to Mullins;
  • Mullins schemed to fraudulently steer a $24,995 census contract to Borner, who returned $5,000 to Mullins; and
  • Mullins schemed to fraudulently steer a $24,997 census contract to Demos, who returned $8,700 to Mullins.