Former commander pleads innocent in Hired Truck Program scam

| 5/13/2005

A police commander involved with Chicago’s corrupt Hired Truck Program pleaded innocent Thursday, May 12, to charges of stealing donations intended for the city’s police department and lying to FBI officials.

Former Commander Michael Acosta pleaded innocent to two counts of mail fraud and one count of making false statements to FBI agents, WMAQ-TV reported. Acosta is being accused of taking at least $3,300 of a $7,000 donation that was supposed to be used for a police luncheon.

Twenty-seven people have been charged in the program, in which city officials pocketed money from outsourced construction work to outside trucking companies. Individuals in the scandal also filtered some of the cash back into political campaigns going as high as Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, unbeknownst to the politicians themselves, according to media reports. So far, seven people have been found guilty.

The plea comes on the heels of Mayor Daley’s promotion of Deputy Police Supt. Tom Byrne to deputy transportation commissioner. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the mayor hopes the high-ranking police official will shake up the department and root out all guilty parties in the scandal.