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Businessman says he bribed county official
Riverdale recycling site at center of allegation

Sunday, June 29, 2008
Chicago Tribune
by Ray Gibson

A south suburban businessman accused of a nationwide swindle has told federal investigators he paid bribes to a Cook County official to operate an allegedly illegal recycling center for fluorescent light bulbs in a Riverdale warehouse, the businessman told the Tribune.

Lee Anglin—who is in the Metropolitan Correctional Center awaiting trial on the federal fraud charges—wrote in a letter to a Tribune reporter that he started paying bribes of $2,500 a month to keep the recycling business open. Anglin, who owned the warehouse, said he was interviewed by three agents about his allegations late last year, shortly after the Tribune published a story about the warehouse.

For nearly two years, Anglin's warehouse was used by a company called River Shannon Recycling, which had won lucrative public contracts and private business to recycle the mercury-laden fluorescent light bulbs. Last year, the company was sued by the Village of Riverdale, which contended the warehouse had become a hazardous waste site contaminated by mercury and filled with light bulbs that had never been recycled.

Court records show a tentative settlement of that lawsuit, and a countersuit by River Shannon against the village appeared imminent until attorneys for River Shannon withdrew last week. Riverdale lawyers will ask a federal judge Tuesday to enforce the terms of the tentative settlement that calls for a cleanup of the building.

The settlement talks came after Riverdale attorneys got a court order to take Anglin's deposition at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he has been held since August 2006.

In his letter to the Tribune, Anglin said that he was partners in the recycling business and that he bribed an official from the Riverdale Fire Department when the village pressed him to install a fire sprinkler. "About two months later in early 2005, I ran into an issue with the EPA from Cook County. We were told the business . . . was not up to code and actually illegal," Anglin said.

He fixed the problem, he said, by making cash payments to an unelected midlevel county official. He personally delivered the cash payments, he said, but two other associates also delivered cash. Cook County officials had said River Shannon's recycling process met state and county regulations.

A spokesman said Cook County Board President Todd Stroger has referred the allegations, which involved events before he was elected, to his inspector general. "President Stroger does not condone this type of conduct, and deems such conduct a gross violation of the public trust," said a statement from the administration.

Anglin said he has given a broad statement about his illegal activities, known as a proffer, to the U.S. attorney's office. Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the Chicago office, declined to comment.

In March 2006, Anglin was charged with fraud related to a real estate investment scheme that offered quick profits to purchasers of Chicago property. He is accused of swindling more than $9 million from investors.

Anglin, a former publisher of a Hegewisch newspaper, may be best known as a one-time friend and one-time foe of former Ald. Edward Vrdolyak, who is fighting unrelated corruption charges.

Anglin has pleaded innocent to the fraud charges.

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