Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine


  Office phone numbers:  

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.


Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.

Prosecutors allege Dorothy Brown took $15K bribe, but her lawyer calls it loan

Friday, February 17, 2017
Chicago Tribune
by Jason Meisner,

Prosecutors allege Dorothy Brown took $15K bribe, but her lawyer calls it loan

Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune
Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown votes at Jesse Owens Park during the morning of the Illinois primary March 15, 2016.

Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune

8:20 pm, February 17, 2017

Federal prosecutors alleged for the first time on Friday that Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown took a $15,000 bribe disguised as a business loan from a man seeking a job with her office.

An attorney for Brown, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing, said the payment was a legitimate loan, not a bribe.

The filing by prosecutors revealed that Brown exchanged numerous phone calls and text messages with the employee, Sivasubramani Rajaram, around the time he gave the money to a goat meat supply company Brown and her husband had recently founded. The filing also alleged Brown had solicited and received another $10,000 loan for the same company from a "senior-level" employee of the clerk's office.

The new allegations came in a sentencing memorandum for Rajaram, who pleaded guilty last April to lying to a federal grand jury investigating wider allegations of pay-to-play in a clerk's office headed by Brown for more than 17 years.

Rajaram admitted in a plea agreement with prosecutors that he was hired by Brown's office in September 2014, just weeks after he gave two purported loans totaling $15,000 to Goat Masters Corp., a company controlled by Brown and her husband, Benton Cook III.

A high-ranking clerk's office employee — identified only as Individual B — "suggested" Rajaram make the loan to Brown in order to be hired and then helped him get the money to Brown's company, prosecutors said.

By lying to the grand jury, Rajaram not only sought to protect himself and his job but also to divert the investigation into Brown, Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather McShain wrote in advance of Rajaram's sentencing later this month.

"The effect of defendant's lies was to hide his own criminality — in paying a bribe to a public official to obtain a job and cheat honest applicants from obtaining that position — and divert attention from (Brown) and Individual B," McShain said.

Brown's criminal defense attorney, Edward Genson, said the money paid by Rajaram was a legitimate loan that had "nothing to do" with his hiring.

"It certainly wasn't a bribe," said Genson, adding that the money has since been paid back.

Grand jury transcripts provided in the prosecution filing show Rajaram testified he knew Individual B from a previous stint in the clerk's office that ended when he moved to India in 2010.

The transcripts show Rajaram testified he'd seen Brown at several of her clerk's office functions, including at a staff picnic and an American Heritage Month celebration at Daley Plaza, but he denied ever talking to her. He also testified that he had spoken to Individual B "three or four times" and that none of those conversations was by phone.

Asked if he'd ever had a conversation with Brown at all — by phone or in person — about his application, Rajaram answered, "No," according to the transcript.

A few weeks after Rajaram's false testimony, Brown's cellphone was seized by the FBI. Brown had Rajaram's number stored in her contacts list and had exchanged 26 text messages with Rajaram between August 2014 and January 2015, according to the filing. She also made three outgoing calls to Rajaram's cellphone and received two incoming calls from him.

In one text, Rajaram wished Brown a happy birthday "and many happy returns of the day," signing the message with his first name as well as his wife's name, the filing said. Prosecutors said Rajaram's wife also had sought employment with the clerk's office, but county records indicate she was never hired.

Records obtained from the investigation show Rajaram had at least two in-person meetings with Brown, prosecutors said. In a December 2014 voicemail message left on Individual B's phone, Rajaram said that he and his wife had met with the "honorable clerk" and her husband and that his wife was "very happy," according to the filing.

"And what word you gave me, I told them," Rajaram said, according to the filing.

Prosecutors said FBI agents first confronted Rajaram at his home in Des Plaines in August 2015. The next month, they interviewed his wife alone. After the agents left, she called Individual B and left a message saying they needed to talk — but not by phone, according to the filing.

"I, I don't know where, how we're gonna call, I have no idea," she said in the message, according to the filing. "Ah yeah, if you don't mind, I can come to your home. Same people they come back again today ... two hours they talk with me."

Prosecutors said they will seek a 15-month prison term for Rajaram, who did not cooperate in the ongoing investigation.

Now in her fifth term, Brown beat out two challengers in last year's primary even though the Cook County Democratic Party had dropped its endorsement of her after the public disclosure of the federal investigation.

After the primary win, Brown said she was keeping Rajaram in her prayers.

"He's a great employee, a great man," she said at the time. "I'm really disappointed."

The Tribune has previously reported Cook County prosecutors were investigating the sale of a North Lawndale building owned by Narendra Patel, a west suburban businessman and longtime campaign donor to Brown. Patel, who is now deceased, gave the property to Brown's husband at no cost in June 2011, and the couple eventually sold it for $100,000.

Patel's sister, Beena Patel, works as an administrator at the circuit clerk's office. State records show that she gave nearly $2,700 to Brown's campaign fund from 2003 to 2008.

Neither Brown nor her chief spokeswoman returned calls on Friday, but she has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. In a 2016 interview with the Tribune Editorial Board, she said it's "impossible for me or anyone else to sell any jobs in that office."

But she has denied Tribune requests for copies of subpoenas related to the federal probe, saying they are not subject to state open records laws.

Tribune's Hal Dardick contributed.

Recent Headlines

Inside the $1B restoration of the old Cook County Hospital, ‘a city unto itself’
Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

$1M settlement to family of man denied medical attention while in police lock-up
Monday, January 21, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

After beating in Evanston, Northwestern alum seeks to promote better policing
Sunday, January 20, 2019
Injustice Watch

Cook County offers two tax exemptions for seniors
Saturday, January 19, 2019
Homewood Flossmore Chronicle

Will political infighting delay your Cook County property tax assessment appeals?
Friday, January 18, 2019
Daily Herald

Cook County offers $8.5 million in transportation grants
Friday, January 18, 2019
Chicago Tribune

It's time to talk about the way we choose judges
Friday, January 18, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Pritzker signs ‘long overdue’ gun dealer licensing bill, vows ‘more work to do’
Thursday, January 17, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Health Opens New Health Center in Arlington Heights
Thursday, January 17, 2019
Daily Herald

A look at other criminal cases where Cook County judges cleared Chicago cops
Thursday, January 17, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

3 Chicago cops found not guilty in Laquan McDonald cover-up conspiracy case
Thursday, January 17, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Old Cook County Hospital on track to become next city landmark
Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Glenview Tentatively OKs Opting Back Into County Minimum Wage, Sick Time Laws
Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Journal and Topics Online

Free Radioactive Radon Test Kits From Cook County
Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Special to

Toni Preckwinkle and county watchdog at odds over political travel reimbursements
Friday, January 11, 2019
Chicago Tribune

2 Cook County judges — one cleared of gun charge, one reassigned for anger management — to return to bench at criminal court
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Chicago Tribune

It's been a bad decade for property taxes
Wednesday, January 09, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Bond court reform has not put more violent offenders back on the street
Wednesday, January 09, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Glenview pushes minimum wage, paid sick leave discussion to next week
Tuesday, January 08, 2019
Chicago Tribune

How Fritz Kaegi Plans to Transform the Cook County Assessor’s Office
Friday, January 04, 2019
WTTW Chicago Tonight

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.