Wife of trucking company owner pleads guilty in Hired Truck scandal

| Friday, June 17, 2005

The wife of a former trucking company owner pleaded guilty in the ongoing investigation of Chicago’s corrupt Hired Truck Program.

Debra Coveliers pleaded guilty to one count of witness tampering in a federal court on Wednesday, June 15. In her plea agreement, Coveliers admitted to helping conceal the fact that her husband, Richard Coveliers, was owner of Cayla Trucking Inc. Richard Coveliers, who was a drain inspector with the city, was ineligible to receive other city work for his firm.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, in a teary confession on the witness stand, Debra Coveliers admitted to covering her husband’s tracks, and often posed to city officials as the company’s owner. Her charges of witness tampering stem from coaching another unnamed woman, known as “Cayla Official A,” to lie to federal investigators.

Coveliers’ plea makes her the 14th person to plead guilty in the Hired Truck Scandal, which took bribes for political campaigns totaling $1.4 million in exchange for lucrative city trucking work. Twenty-seven people face charges in the case.

Debra Coveliers will face sentencing on Oct. 28. Her crime could carry a sentence of up to five years in federal prison, but prosecutors told the Chicago Tribune they will recommend six months of home confinement in exchange for her cooperation in the investigation.

Richard Coveliers’ case, which includes separate charges of mail fraud and making false statements, is still pending.

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