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Feds say Dorothy Brown requested $10G loan from her own employee

Friday, February 17, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times

Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown

Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown | Sun-Times file photo

 

Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown requested a $10,000 loan from one of her senior-level employees for her husband’s business, federal prosecutors revealed Friday in a court document that’s part of a case investigating alleged corruption in the clerk’s office.

That and other new details in a prosecution court document filed Friday draw the closest connections yet to Brown and the federal investigation of alleged buying of jobs and promotions within Brown’s office.

Brown has not been charged with any crime and denies any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors filed a sentencing memo Friday regarding a former employee of Brown’s whopleaded guilty last year to lying to the grand jury investigating Brown’s office.

Sivasubramani Rajaram, of Glenview, loaned $15,000 to Goat Masters Corporation, a company whose president was Brown’s husband, Benton Cook III, according to Rajaram’s indictment.

Prosecutors now bluntly call that “loan” a bribe to get a job in the clerk’s office.

Prosecutors revealed that at least one other employee of Brown’s helped fund that business but did not identify that individual, other than as “a senior-level Clerk’s Office employee.”

Prosecutors note that the mailing address for the business’ bank account was at Brown’s home, and that she and her husband were the two sole signatories on the bank account.

Rajaram worked in the circuit clerk’s office for more than a decade before leaving in 2011, records show. He lived in India and then moved back to the Chicago area in August 2014, returning to Brown’s office the following month, records show.

When he returned to Chicago, Rajaram made the loan to Goat Master. Prosecutors say in their sentencing memorandum filed Friday that Rajaram admitted he made the loan because a high-ranking employee in the clerk’s office — who is not named in the court document — told him that making the loan would help him get the job.

When Rajaram returned to Brown’s office, his yearly salary was $30,678. He got a promotion in June 2015 which brought his salary to $41,151.

Rajaram lied to the grand jury twice. He testified in October 2015 that he hadn’t spoken with Brown since his rehiring. He also testified that he’d spoken with a person identified as “Individual B,” a high-ranking employee in Brown’s office, “maybe like three or four times” since moving back from India — but not by phone.

Rajaram later admitted he had, in fact, spoken with Brown. He also admitted he had spoken by cellphone with Individual B “dozens of times,” between August 2014 and Oct. 1, 2015.

The grand jury handed down its indictment four weeks after Cook County’s Democratic Party leaders withdrew their endorsement of Brown for the March 2016 primary. They instead threw their support to a newly declared candidate, Ald. Michelle Harris (8th), a strong supporter of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Brown handily won the nomination and was later re-elected, though. She has dismissed any idea she’s done anything wrong, telling party leaders, “Investigations are started all the time. … Many of you probably had investigations related to you.”

Brown and Cook have not been accused of any criminal wrongdoing, though the FBI seized Brown’s county-issued cellphone in fall 2015 as part of the investigation. Shortly after that, the Better Government Association, Chicago Sun-Times and FOX Chicago TV revealed that Goat Masters was listed on federal subpoenas involving the circuit clerk’s office.

 



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