Ex-Niles Mayor Finds Salvation

Ex-Niles Mayor Finds Salvation

After serving less than a year on a federal corruption conviction, ex-Niles Mayor Nicholas Blase has been released from the prison camp in Duluth.

Blase, 82, was transferred from the Minnesota tundra to a halfway house on Chicago’s West Side just before Christmas, prison officials and a family member confirmed.

He’ll presumably stay there until March, when his sentence formally ends, although officials would not provide details.

A Better Government Association investigator stopped by the halfway house – run by the Salvation Army – but Blase didn’t want to talk, according to an employee at the front desk.

Let’s hope that’s because he’s so embarrassed by his crimes.

Blase pocketed more than $400,000 by shaking down businesses in the near north suburb, which he ruled for decades.

Oddly, Blase’s conviction – and his own guilty plea – hasn’t soured many village officials on the former mayor.

As the BGA previously reported, the current mayor accepted a $2,500 campaign donation from Blase after his sentencing. And the village board voted to keep a plaza in town named after Blase.

What a message to send to the residents of Niles.

Blase’s campaign fund recently reached a “zero balance” and was closed down, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Let’s hope there’s a message there: that, when he finally returns home, he’s out of government and politics for good.

This blog entry was reported and written by Robert Herguth, the BGA’s editor of investigations. Contact us with tips, suggestions and complaints at (312) 821-9030, or at rherguth@bettergov.org.