Feds Resurface In Cicero

The U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago has subpoenaed records relating to two politically connected vendors in the western suburb, a regular target of federal scrutiny.

Larry_Dominick

Larry Dominick

Lip balm, nail files and pencil sharpeners, all imprinted with the name of Cicero Town President.

Those are just some of the items Cicero’s municipal government bought last year from a Woodridge-based promotional company that’s co-owned by the daughter of Cicero Trustee Lorraine Walsh, according to interviews and records.

The town’s spending at You & Me Inc. – $19,061 last year and a total of more than $890,000 since Dominick took office in 2005 – has been the subject of previous Chicago Sun-Times reports highlighting the alleged nepotism and taxpayer-supported politicking, and the lack of competitive bidding.

Now, the spending has apparently caught the attention of federal prosecutors.

In December, the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago subpoenaed Cicero’s invoices, payment records and other documents relating to You & Me and its co-owners Rosemary Konz and her husband Daniel Konz, from 2008 to present, according to a copy of the subpoena obtained by the Better Government Association from Cicero under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

The subpoena, which lists the names of an IRS agent and a federal prosecutor, also requested town records pertaining to Lembke & Sons True Value Hardware and an affiliated business.

The Sun-Times previously reported that Cicero spent more than $3 million since 2005 at Lembke & Sons. The Berwyn store, owned by Alan Lembke, has contributed more than $69,000 to Dominick’s campaign funds since 2005, according to data from the Illinois State Board of Elections.

The town’s records were to be turned over to a special grand jury that convened Dec. 15, according to the subpoena. Typically, grand juries are convened so evidence can be considered in a criminal investigation. A subpoena is among the tools that federal prosecutors employ to gather that evidence.

Joseph Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, had no comment. Ray Hanania, a Cicero town spokesman, declined to comment except to say, the “contractors have been doing business with the town long before Larry came to office in 2005.”

Rosemary Konz

Rosemary Konz

Rosemary and Daniel Konz founded You & Me in 1998, according to the company’s web site. Rosemary Konz, the daughter of Trustee Walsh, is a member of the town’s Housing and Real Estate board. The Sun-Times has reported that Dominick appointed her in 2006.

You & Me has contributed $6,550 in cash and merchandise to Dominick’s campaign funds since 2005, and Walsh has chipped in more than $21,000, according to elections board data.

Cicero’s spending at You & Me has declined since the town forked over $149,573 in 2012. The town spent $49,131 in 2013; $40,915 in 2014 and $19,061 last year, municipal records show. Last year’s payout includes $2,157 for 3,500 sticks of cherry lip balm; $2,600 for 5,000 nail files; and $2,580 for 2,500 pencil sharpeners.

All of the items were imprinted with Dominick’s name, according to copies of invoices obtained by the BGA.

Reached at her company, Rosemary Konz had no comment. Walsh couldn’t be reached for comment. Lembke didn’t return messages.

You & Me and Lembke & Sons aren’t the only Cicero vendors to recently come under federal scrutiny. The owner of a sewer repair company was sentenced to six months in prison last year for non-payment of federal income taxes on money he was paid by the town. 

The company, Superior Sewer Solution, had received no-bid work from Cicero. The company and its owner were campaign contributors to Dominick.

The BGA previously reported on other vendors with ties to Dominick that have received lucrative, no-bid work from Cicero’s town government.

A garbage company that was paid more than $15 million over the last decade had donated big bucks to Dominick, as did a towing firm co-owned by relatives of Cicero Town Attorney Michael Del Galdo. Tuff Car Co. towed vehicles for the town government, the BGA found, but didn’t share revenues or pay rent to use a town-owned parcel.

Meanwhile, former Cicero Town President Betty Loren-Maltese was convicted in 2002 and served six years in prison on federal charges that she participated in an insurance fraud scheme. Four years later, in 2006, three Cicero police officers, including a deputy superintendent, were indicted on civil rights abuse charges. 

All three were sentenced to prison.