Chicago city clerk charged in ongoing Hired Truck investigation

| 1/16/2006

The ongoing federal investigation into Chicago ’s scandal-ridden Hired Truck program has reached a new high point in the city’s hierarchy.

On Friday, Jan. 13, Chicago City Clerk James Laski was charged with soliciting payoffs and obstructing justice for his alleged involvement in Hired Truck, a program in which city officials demanded bribes and political campaign contributions from trucking companies in exchange for lucrative work with the city.

Laski’s charges stem from two unnamed witnesses, one of whom told investigators that Laski – who has served as the city’s clerk since 1995 – had asked for $500 to $1,000 in bribes as a tradeoff for city contract work, according to the Chicago Tribune.

An affidavit also claims he promised to hire applicants recommended by Donald Tomczak – the city’s former Water Department head, who pleaded guilty to his own charges several months ago – for more support of the Hired Truck program, the Tribune reported.

Laski was released on $10,000 bond, but was required to wear an electronic tracking bracelet at all times.

To date, 39 individuals have been charged in the ongoing. Twenty-five people have been found guilty, including 13 city workers, and 20 people have already been sentenced, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.