Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

Accountability
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.

   
  The first blood bank in the world was established at Cook County Hospital by Dr. Bernard Fantus in 1937.
   
     
     
     



Indictment: Cook County's hired debt collector charged with bribing county officials to secure county contract

Friday, March 15, 2019
Cook County record
by Jonathan Bilyk

Indictment: Cook County's hired debt collector charged with bribing county officials to secure county contract

Filings

By Jonathan Bilyk | Mar 15, 2019

The owner of a Pennsylvania debt collection company, which for years has chased down those who owe money to Cook County, has been indicted on federal charges of allegedly bribing court clerks, including Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, to land such contracts.

On March 15, U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch Jr., of the Northern District of Illinois, announced the charges against Donald Donagher Jr., who had owned and served as CEO of Penn Credit Corporation.

Brown was not charged and does not face allegations of wrongdoing in connection with Donagher's indictment.

According to the indictment, Donagher and Penn Credit, from 2009 to November 2016 used campaign donations and free political services, among other offerings, to secure “favorable treatment for Penn Credit” in the pursuit of lucrative debt collection deals with Cook County and several Florida counties.


Cook County Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown

According to the indictment, the pattern began in Cook County in June 2011, when Donagher allegedly used Penn Credit to contribute $5,000 into a scholarship fund through the Cook County Circuit Clerk’s office.

Shortly after, Penn Credit secured the contract with Brown’s office to collect debt owed to the Circuit Clerk.

A few weeks later, Donagher allegedly sent an email advising his employees and a lobbyist in Illinois that he had promised the campaign of Dorothy Brown – referred to in the complaint as “Clerk A” – “10k of ‘early’ money.”

A month later, Donagher allegedly donated $10,000 to Brown’s campaign organization, according to the indictment.

And later, the indictment said, Donagher directed Penn Credit employees to make “hundreds of thousands” of political calls on Brown’s behalf for free.

In 2012, the indictment alleges, Donagher sent an email to two lobbyists in Illinois, asking them to make sure Penn Credit "was getting an equal share of debt collection work" and to remind Brown they "made a shitload of calls" for her.

In 2014, the indictment alleges, an employee of Brown’s office sent him an email thanking him for “underwriting the expense for the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Women’s History Month Celebration.”

According to the indictment, Donagher forwarded this email to others, and allegedly wrote: “I told her we are fans of [first name of Clerk A]. We gotta stay ahead of (a competitor, not named in the indictment)!!”

The indictment further lists a number of other donations and services performed by Donagher, Penn Credit or Penn Credit employees, not identified in the indictment, on behalf of Brown’s political campaign and other projects affiliated with the Circuit Clerk’s office, all of which were intended to help Penn Credit secure the Circuit Clerk’s office’s debt collection contract and more favorable terms.

According to the indictment, Donagher allegedly carried out similar activities to secure contracts in Orange, Brevard and St. Johns counties in Florida.

In all, Donagher, 67, faces one count of conspiracy and five counts of bribery.

According to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s office, if convicted, Donagher could receive up to 5 years in prison under the conspiracy charge, and 10 years for bribery.

In Cook County, Penn Credit has also been contracted to collect other debts, as well.

In 2015, the Cook County Board, under County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, hired Donagher’s company to pursue county residents who owe “use tax” on the purchase of vehicles, as well as a “full range” of other debts, including debts owed Brown’s office and to the Cook County Health and Hospital System.

The contract is scheduled to expire in 2020.

Under the contract, Penn Credit stands to take in contingency fees equal to about 17-25 percent of the amount collected from all debts referred to it by various county agencies.

Further, a Chicago law firm, Tristan & Cervantes, with whom Penn Credit works, can claim an additional 35 percent of all amounts collected from the cases referred for prosecution.

According to Cook County tax records, use tax collections increased nearly 111 percent from 2011-2016.

In response to questions from The Cook County Record, Cook County spokeswoman Becky Schlikerman said county officials are aware of the indictment, and the county's "legal and procurement teams are reviewing the contract at this time."

Want to get notified whenever we write about any of these organizations ?

Sign-up Next time we write about any of these organizations, we'll email you a link to the story. You may edit your settings or unsubscribe at any time.

Organizations in this Story



Recent Headlines

Property tax pinch: Average North Sider’s bill to rise by $536, South Sider’s by $23
Friday, June 21, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Own property on Chicago’s North Side or central core? Expect a big tax hike
Friday, June 21, 2019
Chicago Tribune

If you live in these areas, your property taxes are about to soar
Thursday, June 20, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County property tax bills posted online ahead of mailing, taxes due August 1
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
ABC Channel 7

Cook County Assessor’s Office asks commissioners to lend staff — and is told, yeah, we’re pretty busy
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Health Program Focuses on ‘Whole Person Care’
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
WTTW News

Beekeeping Behind Bars: Inmates Raise Bees at Cook County Jail
Friday, June 14, 2019
WTTW News

Court rules county retirees entitled to health care no matter who last employer was
Thursday, June 13, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Prevent Illinois from being the next ground zero for measles
Thursday, June 13, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

At Cook County Jail, Inmates Relax Their Minds, Bodies With Yoga
Thursday, June 06, 2019
Prison Mindfulness Institute

Illinois Dept. of Revenue Releases Final 2018 Cook County Equalization Factor
Thursday, June 06, 2019
JD Supra

Skokie drops recent proposal to opt out of Cook County minimum wage ordinance
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Chicago Tribune

JAMA examines rising drug costs • CVS' ambitious transformation • Cook County extends Medicaid contract
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

DCFS says nonprofit misused taxpayer dollars, demands repayment of $100K
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County judge, ripped for ‘insensitive’ racial comments, dumped from bench
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Offers Low Cost Rabies And Microchipping Clinic
Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Patch

Masturbating Cook County Jail inmates could cost taxpayers $2 million-plus in legal fees
Tuesday, June 04, 2019

New training and protocols needed at Cook County, task force says after sexual harassment scandal
Friday, May 31, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County assessor's tax reform bill skids in Springfield
Friday, May 31, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi's property tax reforms stall out in Springfield
Friday, May 31, 2019
Chicago Tribune

all news items

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