Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fourth Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 10 CR 21241,
Honorable James B. Linn, Judge Presiding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE ELLIS delivered the judgment of the court,
with opinion. Justices McBride and Burke concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Defendant Carla Oglesby was charged with several offenses
related to the allegedly improper steering of government
contracts between Cook County and various vendors, including
two of defendant's own companies, that were formed while
defendant was deputy chief of staff for the former president
of the Cook County board of commissioners. Following a bench
trial, the trial court acquitted her of many charges but
found her guilty of two counts of theft, one count of money
laundering, and one count of unlawful stringing of bids.
2 Defendant appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the
evidence as to each count and the sentence imposed, and
further argues that one of her convictions for theft must be
vacated under the one-act, one-crime doctrine.
3 We affirm defendant's convictions for theft. The State
presented sufficient evidence that defendant intended to
permanently deprive the county of the use and benefit of its
funds, that she obtained or exerted unauthorized control over
the funds, and that she engaged in deception. We agree with
both parties, however, that because both theft convictions
were carved from the same act, one of the two convictions
must be vacated under the one-act, one-crime doctrine. We
remand to the trial court to determine which of the counts
was less serious and should be vacated.
4 We affirm defendant's conviction for money laundering.
The State sufficiently proved that defendant received a
kickback from a vendor that was disguised as a legitimate
transaction between two companies.
5 Finally, we affirm defendant's conviction for bid
stringing. The State presented ample evidence that defendant
improperly designated several vendor contracts in such a way
to avoid a competitive-bidding process, so that the preferred
vendor would receive the contracts without any competition.
6 I. BACKGROUND
7 Because defendant challenges the sufficiency of evidence as
to each of her four convictions, it is necessary to examine
the facts in great detail.
8 Cook County's main governing body is a board of
commissioners. See generally 55 ILCS 5/div. 2-6 (West 2010)
(laying out structure, powers, and duties of Cook County
board of commissioners). The voters of Cook County select a
president of the board from among the candidates for
commissioner. 55 ILCS 5/2-6002 (West 2010).
9 At all times relevant to this case, Todd Stroger was
president of the Cook County board of commissioners. Stroger
hired defendant as his deputy chief of staff on February 16,
2010. Defendant was arrested in connection with this case on
October 4, 2010.
10 The State's charges in this case related to several
public contracts between various vendors that were ostensibly
hired to perform public relations work for various
departments in Cook County. The State charged defendant with
organizing (counts I and II) and continuing (counts V and VI)
a financial crimes enterprise, theft (count III), theft by
deception (count IV), money laundering (count VII), official
misconduct (counts VIII through XIV), and unlawful stringing
of bids (count XV). After a bench trial, defendant was found
guilty of theft, theft by deception, money laundering, and
unlawful stringing of bids and acquitted of the other
11 A. The Contracting Process, Generally
12 Generally, when Cook County contracted with outside
vendors for services, those contracts were offered up for
competitive bidding among various vendors. However, a
department seeking the services of a particular vendor could
seek a "sole-source contract, " which was a
contract to be performed by a specific vendor without
competitive bidding. See Cook County Code of Ordinances
§ 34-139 (amended Mar. 12, 2014) ("Procurements of
supplies, equipment, goods or services may be made without
use of one of the competitive processes if there is either
only one source or there is a need for the unique or
specialized skill, experience, or ability possessed by a
13 In order to obtain a sole-source contract, the head of the
department seeking to use a particular vendor would complete
a "justification letter"-a letter explaining why
the department needed to use that particular vendor, instead
of selecting a bidder through a competitive bidding process.
See id. ("The Using Agency must submit a letter
to the CPO justifying the sole source Procurement, and
provide any other documents or information required by the
CPO."). The letters were sent to the office of the
14 In addition, contracts were usually submitted to the Cook
County board of commissioners for approval. But during
defendant's tenure, contracts valued at less than $25,
000 did not need to be submitted to the board for approval.
15 Three other entities also had to sign off on a single
source contract in order for it to be completed: the office
of the purchasing agent, the comptroller, and the chief
financial officer (CFO) of the county.
16 B. Contracts at Issue
17 The contracts at issue in this case were all formed
between late February 2010 and mid-April 2010. They were
ostensibly made to serve three projects: (1) a federal grant
to assist individuals affected by a 2008 flood in suburban
Cook County, administered through Cook County's
department of homeland security; (2) a federal Department of
Energy grant administered through Cook County's
department of environmental control; and (3) a project to
inform the public about the 2010 census to increase turnout.
18 1. Flood Grant Contracts
19 On February 24, 2010, eight days after defendant had been
hired as deputy chief of staff, two justification letters
were drafted for single source contracts relating to the
flood grant. The letters were signed by David Ramos, the
executive director of the Cook County department of homeland
security, relating to two vendors who would work for the
county on the flood grants: CGC Communications, LLC (CGC) and
Gary Render. Although Ramos ran the department of homeland
security, the justification letters were drafted on
letterhead from the office of the president, i.e.,
20 Both justification letters said that CGC and Render would
"work in conjunction with the Office of the President,
the Board of Commissioners, and the Department of Public
Affairs and Communications in the strategic implementation of
media tactics designed to inform residents of suburban Cook
County of" the flood grant. Both letters said that Ramos
had selected these particular vendors because of "the
vast experiences [they] possess[ ] in areas related, but not
limited to, strategic planning and [their] diverse
background[s] in general consumer and multicultural
21 On February 26, 2010, the county issued checks to CGC and
Render for $24, 975 and $24, 980, respectively. Bank records
showed that CGC deposited the check in its account on March
1, 2010. Defendant had set up CGC's bank account, and it
was undisputed that she controlled that account.
22 Ramos testified that Stroger appointed him to be the
executive director of the department of homeland security in
September 2009. Soon after his appointment, he learned that
the county was "under the gun to disperse the [flood]
grant funds." According to Ramos, if the county did not
use the grant funds within a certain amount of time, the
money would be returned to the federal government.
23 Ramos testified that it was part of his job to inform the
public about the availability of the grant funds. Ramos spoke
to Eugene Mullins, the head of Cook County's department
of public affairs and communications (DPAC), about a public
24 Ramos testified that Mullins brought him the completed
justification letters for CGC and Render. Ramos signed them,
and he acknowledged that he did not review them "with a
fine tooth [sic] comb." Ramos added, "I
entrusted [Mullins] as DPAC Director that he was going to
assist my department in getting the word out to the residents
of Cook County." He also thought that DPAC would work
with the vendors in performing the outreach.
25 Ramos said that he did not know anything about CGC or
Render at the time he signed the letters. He did not know
that defendant owned CGC. Ramos never spoke to defendant
about these justification letters.
26 Prior to being hired as deputy chief of staff, defendant
owned and operated CGC. Defendant listed CGC on a dual
employment form she gave to the county at the beginning of
her tenure. When defendant took on the job at Cook County,
she asked Tesa Anewishki, who had been working for CGC as an
independent consultant, to take over the responsibility of
running CGC's day-to-day operations. Defendant remained
in control of CGC's bank accounts, however, and was still
27 Anewishki testified that she was not employed by CGC; she
worked as an independent consultant for the company from late
2008 until 2010.
28 Anewishki met Mullins in summer or early fall 2009. CGC
was working on Stroger's reelection campaign at that
time. Mullins said that he liked the way CGC worked, so he
told Anewishki that he wanted CGC to work on community
outreach projects for "all of these grant opportunities
that people [in Cook County were] not applying for."
29 In December 2009, CGC was working for DPAC and Mullins on
an outreach program informing residents of the county funds
available for foreclosure relief. Anewishki testified that
CGC provided DPAC with "strategic plans" for the
foreclosure project. Anewishki explained what a media
"It's when you develop a plan based off of who your
target audience is and you craft a plan to reach that
audience. So you look at a media's [sic]
demographic profile, psychographic profile if they are
readers, as well as the service areas that the newspaper
Anewishki said that the point of this type of planning was to
ensure that the target audience received the message, so that
Cook County would "get the most bang for [its] buck in
terms of media."
30 From February 2010, when defendant started working at Cook
County, until summer 2010, Anewishki was in charge of CGC.
But she still did not work there full-time; she kept her own
clients. Defendant still owned the company, but Anewishki was
in charge of billing, banking, and payroll.
31 Anewishki testified that, in early 2010, Mullins said that
CGC would start work on an outreach program for the flood
grant. Anewishki testified as to the work she did on the
flood grant project:
"Well, I continued doing research. So I did the research
on the flood areas that were the high risk and the mid risk
impact areas regarding the floods, looking at the-
continuously doing the communications audit, giving him
recommendations, coming up with key messaging, giving him
media targets to go after in terms of promoting the programs,
you know, fliers. It was really about grasp reach based off
of the demographic [sic] and population. You
can't do things globally. You have to do things very
grass root [sic] oriented. So giving [Mullins] the
recommendations of how to reach those audiences."
32 She also said that she performed a "communications
audit" for the county, which consisted of her reviewing
the type of outreach that the county had done in the past and
determining how the county could improve on their public
relations techniques. For example, Anewishki testified, she
recommended that DPAC stop putting Stroger's face on
fliers it distributed because he was very unpopular at the
33 Anewishki acknowledged that CGC was paid $24, 975 for its
work. She explained what that fee was for: "Strategic
planning, public relations, media planning to buy, creative,
because when you do a media buy, even though you pay for the
cost of the ad, the agency also gets a commission, the
reporting, personnel, postage, telephone, mileage,
supplies." When asked how the figure of $24, 975 was
reached, Anewishki said that Mullins told her that the budget
had to be under $25, 000. She testified that, if she had
performed the work she did for the county in the private
sector, she would have likely charged somewhere around $50,
000. Anewishki acknowledged that her work for the county
consisted mostly of internet research.
34 Christine Geovanis, a communications associate in DPAC,
testified that, in April 2010, she was assigned to promote
workshops and public gatherings that would spread awareness
of the federal flood grants. She said that the flood grant
promotion "was made an extreme priority in the
department." She wrote several press releases as part of
35 Geovanis said that, ordinarily, DPAC used county employees
to distribute fliers, not outside contractors. She could only
remember one instance in which an outside vendor had been
used to do promotion for DPAC.
36 Geovanis testified that she never worked with CGC from
December 2009 through March 2010, even though a CGC invoice
for that period said that it worked with DPAC "to
strategize and craft promotion." In fact, she did not
work with anyone outside of DPAC in the spring of 2010.
37 Geovanis testified that she learned that CGC had taken
credit for her work-her press releases and research-in April
2010. On cross-examination, she acknowledged that she
received this information from the county's inspector
general (IG) and not from her personal knowledge.
38 The parties stipulated to Render's testimony. Render
knew Mullins through professional contacts. In January 2010,
Mullins approached Render and told him that the county had
opportunities for people with backgrounds in communications,
including an opportunity to provide "marketing outreach
services to inform suburban residents of a federal flood
relief grant." At the time that Mullins told Render
about this opportunity, Render was unemployed.
39 Render prepared a proposal that he submitted to Mullins.
The initial proposal listed the budget at $27, 000, but
Mullins lowered that number to $24, 980. Mullins also made
other changes to the draft. Render wound up submitting
several drafts of the proposal to Mullins before he accepted
40 Render received a check from the county on February 25,
2010 for $24, 980. At that time, he had performed no work on
the contract. Render testified that he intended to perform
the work pursuant to the contract but did not have the
opportunity to do so.
41 On March 1, 2010, Render withdrew $11, 360 in cash. He
gave Mullins $9000 outside his apartment. Render said that
Mullins had asked for the cash in order to pay other vendors.
Render said that he never met defendant or President Stroger.
42 Render had agreed to testify after entering into a
deferred prosecution agreement with the federal government.
43 2. Department of Energy Grant Contracts
44 The next group of contracts dealt with a federal
Department of Energy grant.
45 On February 24, 2010, the same day that Ramos signed the
justification letters for CGC and Render, a justification
letter was also drafted for Arrei Management (Arrei). The
letter said that Arrei would work with DPAC "to build
awareness of the composting and electronic collection
programs to help resident [sic], business
[sic], and other local governments become more
energy efficient and conscious of conservation
initiatives" and with the department of environmental
control to "effectively communicate the *** Composting
and Electronic Collection grant program to the 2.5 million
resident's [sic] of Cook County." The
letter said that the department of environmental control had
selected Arrei because of its "vast experience *** in
areas related, but not limited to, strategic planning and its
diverse background in general consumer and multicultural
media." The letter was signed by Kevin Givens, the
director of the department of environmental control.
46 On March 18, 2010, Givens signed a justification letter
for Michael L. Peery. This letter said that Peery would
provide the same services as Arrei, using exactly the same
language as the Arrei justification letter. The letter said
that Peery was selected as a sole-source vendor because of
his "vast experience in areas related, but not limited
to, strategic planning and his position as a radio and
47 On March 26, 2010, the county wrote checks to Arrei and
Peery for $24, 995 and $24, 980, respectively. Defendant had
established a bank account for Arrei in 2006. As of December
31, 2009, Arrei had $16.76 in its account. From that date
until March 29, 2010, there were only two transactions
relating to that account: a withdrawal of $10 and a service
fee of $6.76. The Cook County check was deposited in
Arrei's account on March 29, 2010.
48 On March 31, 2010, two transfers of $7000 and $4500 were
made from Arrei's account to CGC's accounts. On April
2 and April 9, 2010, three additional transfers resulted in
$1500 being transferred from Arrei to CGC. After a subsequent
transfer of $10, 000 to a checking account held by an
individual named Shawn Thompson, Arrei's bank account had
a balance of $173.
49 Givens testified that he was the director of the
department of environmental control at the time the Arrei and
Peery contracts were formed. Givens said that, in 2009, the
department was selected to receive a $12, 695, 000 federal
block grant "for energy"; in 2010, Givens was
selected to manage the overall program. The grant money could
only be used for specified purposes. Givens said that the
grant could not be used for public relations or outreach.
50 In March 2010, Givens had a meeting with defendant and
Mullins, where defendant asked Givens how the grant money
could be used. Givens testified that defendant and Mullins
brought up the idea of using the grant money for an outreach
program, and Givens told them the grant money could not be
used for that purpose. At trial, Givens testified that he
double-checked that the grant money could not be used for
public relations by calling the Department of Energy; he
previously told investigators that he had not called the
Department of Energy to double-check.
51 Givens said that, after his initial meeting with defendant
and Mullins, Mullins had presented him with the justification
letters for Arrei and Peery. Givens acknowledged signing both
letters but expressed reservations about doing so. He said
that he had drafted justification letters in the past and
that the justification letters for Arrei and Peery were
"not sufficient in terms of what [he] consider[ed] a
justification letter to be" because they lacked
sufficient detail about what Arrei and Peery would do. And
the proposals that Arrei and Peery had submitted lacked the
"very detailed information" that such proposals
usually had about the cost of a contract. Givens said that
both the Arrei and Peery proposals were simply
52 Givens asked Mullins why both Arrei and Peery would be
needed to perform the same work for the department, and
according to Givens, Mullins replied "that these
contracts and this activity would help support the legacy of
the department in terms of the work that the department had
begun." Givens expressed his reservations about the
letters to Mullins, and they had "a pretty heated back
and forth." Givens testified that "most of the
pressure [to sign the letters] came from Mr. Mullins."
53 Eventually, Givens signed the letters because of the
"political pressure" he felt. He said that he felt
nervous about losing his job if he did not sign the letters
because he thought that the justification letters had
Stroger's support and approval. He also thought that the
public relations activities would be funded by the budget of
the office of the president, not by the federal energy grant.
54 Anewishki testified that defendant, along with owning CGC,
also owned Arrei "at one point." When defendant
went to work for Cook County, Mark Carter became the owner.
Arrei's bank records indicated that defendant remained
listed on the company's bank accounts.
55 Anewishki testified that she developed Arrei's
proposal for an outreach campaign, which was a PowerPoint
presentation with less than 10 slides. Anewishki acknowledged
that the proposal prepared for Arrei was essentially the same
as the proposal prepared for CGC. When asked if Arrei did any
work pursuant to the contract, Anewishki said, "I do not
know. My purpose was only to do the initial research as well
as the proposal."
56 The parties stipulated to Peery's testimony. Peery met
Mullins in 2009 and the two became friends. In January or
February of 2010, Peery asked Mullins if Cook County had any
"media projects" that he could work on. Mullins
told Peery that there "were contracts coming up for a
bid related to media outreach for an energy grant and that
Peery should submit a proposal."
57 Peery drafted his proposal "based upon a template
provided by Mullins." The amount listed in the proposal,
$24, 985, was an amount that Mullins suggested. Mullins told
Peery that there "would be less red tape if the contract
was for less than $25, 000."
58 Peery said that, using the $24, 985 he received from the
county, he intended to purchase radio air time, newspaper
advertisements, and use social media. But he did not complete
an invoice bearing his name that was submitted to the county;
the first time he saw it was when investigators showed it to
him. Peery testified that the only work he did was attending
two or three meetings at the Cook County building.
59 Peery testified that, on March 26, 2010, Mullins
hand-delivered him a check for the full amount of the
contract. When Mullins gave Peery the check, he told Peery
that another, unnamed company would be hiring people to pass
out fliers for the project and asked Peery for cash to pay
this other company. Peery agreed to give Mullins the cash
"because he was afraid to risk his relationship with
Cook County in future contracts." Peery gave Mullins two
$6000 cash payments on two separate occasions: once in the
parking lot of an office supply store and again at a coffee
shop a week later. Mullins told Peery not to tell anyone
about the cash.
60 Peery had no interactions with defendant and did not know
her. He agreed to testify pursuant to a deferred prosecution
agreement with the federal government.
61 The final contracts relating to the federal Department of
Energy grant were made with two companies called Alliance
Media and Marketing (Alliance) and Urban Rapport, Inc. (Urban
Rapport). Defendant signed the justification letters for both
companies, which were dated April 1, 2010.
62 The justifications letters said that Alliance would work
with DPAC "to build awareness of the [department of
environmental control's] energy and conservation programs
throughout the northern and western suburbs of Cook
County" in order to "help Cook County residents,
business [sic], and other local governments become
more energy efficient, and cognizant of conservation
initiatives." Urban Rapport would work with DPAC
"to build awareness of the [department of environmental
control's] energy and conservation programs throughout
suburban Cook County."
63 According to the letters, Alliance would target "
'hard to reach' and lower income residents" and
"develop and disseminate promotional and informational
materials throughout key locations in Cook County."
Urban Rapport would create a marketing plan to
"effectively communicat[e] the Department of
Environmental Control's Composting and Electronic
Collection grant program to the 2.5 million resident's
[sic] of Cook County" and "develop and
disseminate promotional and informational materials
throughout key locations in Cook County."
64 The letters indicated that Alliance was selected
"based upon his [sic] vast experience in areas
related, but not limited to communications and
marketing." Urban Rapport was selected "based upon
its vast experience in areas related, but not limited to,
strategic planning and communications marketing."
65 The justification letters requested $24, 950 for the
Alliance contract and $24, 975 for Urban Rapport, which would
be funded out of the budget for the office of the president.
On April 2, 2010, the county wrote checks to Alliance and
Urban Rapport for the full amounts of their respective
66 Defendant signed the Alliance justification letter on
behalf of the office of the president. Only individuals with
"signature authority" from their department in the
county could sign documents on behalf of the departments. On
February 25, 2010, Stroger had given defendant authority to
sign purchase requisitions on behalf of "all offices
under the president." On March 3, 2010, Stroger
authorized defendant to sign invoices for the
comptroller's office for "all offices under the
67 Both Alliance and Urban Rapport were companies related to
an individual named Terrell Harris, who was also known as
Shorty Capone. We discuss Harris's involvement with the
contracts further in a later subsection.
68 3. Census Contracts
69 The final group of contracts concerned a Cook County
program designed to improve its residents' responses to
the 2010 census. Defendant signed each justification letter
for these contracts on behalf of the office of the president.
70 The first two justification letters were dated April 15,
2010 and related to two individuals named Clifford Borner and
Kenneth Demos. The letters said that Borner and Demos would
"immediately begin" an educational campaign
regarding the census "by organizing
'door-to-door' participants throughout south suburban
Cook County, and by participating in training and
informational session [sic]." They both said
that Borner and Demos would use "multi-media education
and public service announcements" to "stress the
severe loss of federal funds given to other states and
municipalities with the loss of programs in Cook County that
are of an everyday necessity within the southern
suburbs." Both letters said that the president's
office had selected Borner and Demos "based upon [their]
keen business acumen and *** extensive involvement in
community affairs." The letters requested $24, 995 and
$24, 997 for Borner and Demos, respectively. The county wrote
checks for those amounts to Borner and Demos on April 22,
71 The parties stipulated to both Borner's and
Demos's testimony. Borner testified that he owned a lawn
care company that "also distribute[d] fliers and other
materials." Mullins contacted Borner in March 2010 and
asked him if he was available to distribute census materials
for the county. Mullins indicated that Borner would be
working with another company but did not specify the name of
the other company.
72 Borner said that he did not draft a proposal for his
contract with the county; Mullins drafted it while he was on
the phone with Borner. Borner's wife signed the proposal
for him after Mullins faxed it to them.
73 Borner received a check for $24, 995 from the county on
April 22, 2010, even though he had not performed any work
pursuant to the contract. Borner deposited the check in his
bank account and purchased a cashier's check for $12,
497.50 payable to his wife. His wife deposited that
cashier's check and withdrew $5000 in cash that she gave
to Borner. Borner then gave Mullins the $5000 in cash, which
Mullins said he needed to pay the other company working on
the census project.
74 Borner said that, eventually, he did some work pursuant to
the contract, "including distributing promotional
material on approximately ten occasions with others." He
also attended meetings at a county office building. Mullins
ran those meetings and handed out prepared fliers. Borner
never met defendant or talked to defendant about his
75 Demos had run a title insurance company from the mid-1980s
until 2009, when it closed. He was looking for work in early
2010 and asked Mullins, whom he had known since 1983, for a
job with Cook County.
76 Mullins did not offer Demos a job but told him that there
was "an opportunity for a Cook County contract
performing outreach services to increase the number of people
responding to the national census." Mullins told Demos
that the contract "had to be priced at less than $25,
000." Demos said he wrote the first two pages of his
three-page proposal for the contract but that someone else
made changes to his draft, added a section labeled,
"Objective, " and added the third page that listed
the $24, 997 contract price.
77 Demos testified that he never met defendant and never did
any of the things listed in the justification letter signed
by defendant. The only work he did pursuant to the contract
"was to canvas parts of Cicero on three or four
occasions for a total of ten hours." Demos said that, at
the time he entered into the contract, he intended to perform
his part of the bargain.
78 Around April 22, 2010, Mullins handed Demos a check for
$24, 997 at the Hard Rock Café where Demos was
employed. Mullins told Demos that a subcontractor would be
doing some of the work under the contract, so he asked for
half of the check amount in order to pay the subcontractor.
Demos refused to give Mullins half of the check because he
would have to pay taxes on the full $24, 997; he gave Mullins
$8478 in cash instead.
79 Defendant also signed a justification letter on April 15,
2010 for a company called Griffin Media Group (Griffin
Media). The letter indicated that the office of the president
intended to "set up informational sessions for residents
throughout Cook County to discuss why participating in the
census is important to help Cook County increase
response." It noted that Cook County's response rate
was lower than the national and state averages and cited
figures showing that federal programs distributed funds to
local governments based on census data. The letter listed
several demographic groups that, historically, had low
response rates for the census and indicated that the campaign
would be designed to target those groups with
"educational training, informational sessions and
'door-to-door' education outreach."
80 But the justification letter for Griffin Media contained
no information about Griffin Media itself and did not explain
why Griffin Media needed to be exempt from the bidding
process. Griffin Media's proposal was a seven-page
PowerPoint presentation that discussed much of the same
information as the justification letter.
81 Griffin Media submitted an invoice to Cook County dated
April 16, 2010, for the full amount of the contract-$24, 995.
Cook County wrote Griffin Media a check on April 22, 2010.
82 Defendant also signed a justification letter for the
Illinois Human Development Council (IHDC) on April 16, 2010.
This letter largely used the same language as the letters for
Borner and Demos. Specifically, the letter requested a $24,
995 contract for IHDC to help with the census project by
"by organizing 'door-to-door' participants
throughout South Suburban Cook County, and by participating
in training and informational session [sic]."
The letter said that IHDC would use "multi-media
education and public service announcements" to
"stress the severe loss of federal funds given to other
states and municipalities with the loss of programs in Cook
County that are of an everyday necessity within the southern
suburbs." And the letter said that IHDC was qualified
for the contract due to its "extensive involvement in
local community affairs."
83 The parties stipulated to the testimony of Leonard Searcy,
who ran IHDC. Searcy said he established IHDC in 2009 as a
nonprofit corporation designed to perform social service work
such as employment programs and antiviolence campaigns. In
2010, Searcy was focused on soliciting funding for the
programs that he wanted IHDC to implement.
84 Searcy wrote a letter to Mullins about IHDC working for
Cook County. He met with Mullins shortly thereafter, and
Mullins said that he wanted IHDC to do census work. Searcy
said that he did not prepare the proposal or any other
documents for the county on IHDC's behalf; Mullins
presented the documents to Searcy after they had already been
prepared. Mullins, not Searcy, suggested the contract price
of $24, 995.
85 Searcy testified that Mullins told him that, if he did not
want IHDC to do the work, Mullins could hire a subcontractor
to do it for $5000. Searcy said that he "understood
Mullins to be suggesting that if IHDC did not want to perform
any actual census outreach work but still wanted to receive
the contract, IHDC could pay a subcontractor $5, 000 from the
$24, 995 payment from the County, and keep the remaining $19,
995 even though IHDC would not have done any work."
86 Searcy said he began to grow concerned about the contract
with the county, so he contacted a member of Mullins's
staff named Sean Howard. Searcy asked Howard if the
subcontractor arrangement proposed by Mullins was typical,
and Howard replied that "it was unusual and did not seem
right." Searcy asked Howard to tell Mullins that IHDC
was no longer interested in being involved with the census
87 Searcy said that, a few days later, he received a call
from his accountant informing him that IHDC had received a
check from Cook County for $24, 995. Searcy called
Mullins's office again and reiterated that he did not
want to be involved. Searcy returned the check to the county.
88 Searcy said that he never issued any invoices, including
an invoice that had been submitted to the county on
IHDC's behalf, and never performed any work pursuant to
the contract. He had never seen the justification letter
signed by defendant until investigators showed it to him.
89 Searcy had met defendant during Stroger's last
campaign and shortly after she had been appointed as his
deputy chief of staff. Searcy said that he and defendant only
spoke "in general" about contracting opportunities
and IHDC's services. Searcy did not discuss the census
project with defendant.
90 The final three contracts relating to the census outreach
project were awarded to three companies: PR Everything A2Z,
Citymerge, Inc. (Citymerge), and Mediarazzi International
(Mediarazzi). The letters used the same language to describe
the duties these companies would perform as the justification
letters for Borner, Demos, and IHDC. And they said that these
three companies were either qualified for the sole-source
contract based on their "keen business acumen" or
"extensive involvement in local community affairs."
91 The justification letters that defendant signed for these
four companies were dated April 15, 2010, and April 16, 2010.
Each of the proposals submitted by the companies were
five-to-six-page PowerPoint presentations that recited
similar statistics regarding response rates to the census.