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Federal stock fraud prosecutor gets Berrios' property tax appeals spot

Monday, January 31, 2011
Chicago Tribune
by Hal Dardick

Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans today skipped over some of the more politically prominent candidates for a vacant seat on the board that hears property tax assessment appeals to appoint a federal stock fraud prosecutor.

Michael Cabonargi, a senior attorney and prosecutor with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in Chicago, will be one of three commissioners on the Board of Review. He will serve out the remaining 22 months of the term of Joseph Berrios, the new county assessor.

Evans chose Cabonargi, of the Logan Square neighborhood, over 10 other candidates including outgoing Chicago Ald. Gene Schulter, 47th, and former Cook County Board Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno. Another candidate was lesser-known Asst. Cook County State’s Atty. Aaron Bilton, who Cabonargi is considering as a potential top deputy in his new post, Evans said in a statement.

Evans said he selected Cabonargi for his legal abilities and progressive political affiliations. “Mr. Cabonargi’s background and management approach demonstrated to me that he has the practical wisdom, experience and vision to be a fair and effective commissioner,” Evans added.

Cabonargi is a Democrat who was an aide to former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon and current Sen. Richard Durbin. He has contributed $1,450 in since 2000 to Democratic causes and candidates, including state Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, and former state Comptroller Dan Hynes, according to state records.

He also has worked at two of the city’s higher profile law firms. While at one of those firms, he was appointed to defend the county against claims of police misconduct and the city in litigation related to Mayor Richard Daley’s closing of Meigs Field.

Cabonargi said he will resign from his post at the SEC to take the new job and plans to run for a full four-year term in 2012.

He said he plans to meet Tuesday with Bilton "to see if he's still interested" in the top deputy position.

Although they've never met before, "his credentials look excellent," Cabonargi said.

Cabonargi's wife, Erin Lavin Cabonargi, is executive director of the Public Building Commission of Chicago.



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