CHICAGO — Yet another Chicago alderman faces a possible 20 years in prison – this one for using funds meant for his ward's needy for casino cash, his daughter's college tuition and items for his home.
City of Chicago Alderman Willie B. Cochran pleaded guilty to a federal fraud charge Thursday for pocketing money from a charitable fund intended to help families and children in his South Side ward, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a press release.
While representing the 20th Ward in the Chicago City Council, Cochran admitted to operating the “20th Ward Activities Fund,” which he purported to use for charitable endeavors to help families and children living in the ward. Cochran controlled a bank account connected to the fund. When soliciting donations to the fund, Cochran falsely represented that all contributions would be used for charitable events, including a back-to-school picnic, a Valentine’s Day party for senior citizens, and events during the holiday season in November and December.
Cochran admitted in a plea agreement that he used some of the contribution money for his own personal use, including paying his daughter’s college tuition, withdrawing cash at casino ATM’s, and purchasing items for his home. From January 2010 to April 2014, Cochran pocketed approximately $14,285 from the fund and converted the money to his own personal use, the plea agreement states.
Cochran, 66, of Chicago, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. The conviction is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Jorge L. Alonso set sentencing for June 20, 2019, at 2:00 p.m.
The FBI initiated the investigation after receiving information from the former City of Chicago Legislative Inspector General’s Office, which was headed at that time by Faisal Khan.
People holding public office that commit crimes that pertain to their office should face double the penalties; for violating the public trust.