Former Chicago City Clerk Jim Laski is expected to plead guilty Friday,
March 17, for his alleged involvement in the city’s scandal-ridden Hired Truck
According to the Chicago Sun-Times,
Laski will admit to taking approximately $48,000 in bribes to help a friend get
work for his trucking business. If convicted, Laski, the former high-ranking
city employee, could face up to 10 years in prison.
On Feb. 13, Laski pleaded not guilty and asked for time to work out a
plea bargain. Originally, there was no indication of whether Laski would
cooperate with the feds in the ongoing investigation as part of the agreement;
however, the Sun-Times reported
that he will not.
According to the Chicago Tribune,
two employees in Laski’s department wore electronic surveillance equipment to
gather evidence of his alleged bribe-taking. One of the two unnamed informants
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 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 preliminarily charged in a federal complaint on Jan. 13 and
formally brought up on charges Jan. 26 for bribery and obstructing justice for
his alleged involvement in the program. However, he returned to work just three
working days after being slapped with the charges.
On Feb. 6, Laski – the first elected official to be charged in
connection with Hired Truck – resigned from his position. According to the Sun-Times, Laski switched lawyers, and his
new counsel advised him to give up his position and its $135,000-plus yearly
salary to preserve both his and the city’s reputation.
To date, 44 individuals have been charged in the ongoing federal
investigation into Hired Truck. If Laski does plead guilty, he will be the 31st
person to have pleaded guilty or to have been found guilty. Seventeen city
workers, and 21 people have already been sentenced, according to the Sun-Times.