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4-year fraud sentence for ex-Cook County official

Published: Friday, March 21, 2014 11:56 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 21, 2014 11:58 p.m. CDT

CHICAGO – A federal judge sentenced a former Cook County official Friday to four years in prison for steering no-bid contracts for public awareness programs to acquaintances and then reaping nearly $35,000 in kickbacks.

Eugene Mullins, 50, a one-time director of communications for ex-Cook County President Todd Stroger, said his prosecution was related to sinister figures out to get Stroger – a close friend of Mullins going back to their childhoods.

At the sentencing in Chicago, Judge Amy St. Eve said she found Mullins had lied when he took the stand at his 2013 trial, a finding that boosted his prison time. Jurors convicted Mullins on three wire fraud and four bribery counts.

The defense alleged that shadowy forces had pressured Mullins to offer false testimony about Stroger, who has not been accused of wrongdoing.

“This case is about political assassination of Todd Stroger, and Dr. Eugene Mullins ... is simply a casualty of war,” one pretrial defense filing alleged. But the judge ruled the attorneys had no grounds to make that claim to jurors.

The four contracts at issue were each worth less than $25,000, so they didn’t require County Board approval – opening the way for Mullins’ scheme, prosecutors said. Each contract was meant for awareness programs, including one on flood-impact assistance available to residents.

The four contractors involved were charged with misprision of a felony for concealing the scheme. As part of agreements with prosecutors, they were placed on probation and ordered to pay full restitution.

St. Eve also ordered Mullins to pay $34,700 in restitution and forfeiture, equivalent to the amount prosecutors say he accepted in kickbacks. Mullins, of Chicago, must report to prison by June 19.

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Follow Michael Tarm at https://twitter.com/mtarm

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