Brookins` chief of staff arrested for allegedly taking bribes - KMSP-TV

Chief of staff to Ald. Brookins arrested for allegedly taking bribes

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

An undercover informant for the FBI allegedly passed a note to Ald. Howard Brookins last year that said "12K to you for your letter of support" as he tried to get a letter from the alderman supporting a liquor license for a convenience store to be located in his 21st Ward, according to a criminal complaint released Friday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The feds announced charges Friday against Brookins' chief of staff, Curtis V. Thompson Jr., 62, of the 4700 block of Greenwood, who allegedly took a cash bribe from the informant after a 2013 Christmas party at Brookins' office. The informant got the letter of support from the alderman's office for a convenience store selling alcohol, the complaint says.

Brookins has not been charged and is not even referred to by name in the criminal complaint. He is referred to as Alderman A, but it is clear from details in the court document that he is the alderman being referred to, the Sun-Times is reporting.

Brookins, the chairman of the City Council's Black Caucus, was stunned when told Friday of the federal charges against his chief of staff.

"Are you serious? He's been charged? Unbelievable. It's just unbelievable. I am speechless at this point," Brookins said.

Acknowledging that Thompson "does work for me in that ward," Brookins said it would be "logical" that he is the "Alderman ‘A'" described in the complaint. He noted that, "People come to us all the time," seeking aldermanic support for the liquor license needed to open a bar, restaurant or packaged goods store.

But Brookins said he knew of no instance in which Thompson either solicited or accepted a bribe in exchange for convincing the alderman to support a liquor license.

"I've known Curtis a while. He has been a pretty stand up guy. He worked in the mortgage banking field," the alderman said.

Asked if he trusted Thompson, Brookins said, "I had up until I'm hearing this."

The federal complaint claims that Brookins was in the room and was handed a post-it with the bribe offer. When a reporter attempted to question Brookins about those details, he cut the conversation short.

"I need to call a couple of people, including my attorney. Let me look into it and call you back."

He did not return repeated phone calls after that.

Thompson was released on bond Friday afternoon after an initial court appearance.

The complaint says a federal investigation began in 2012 but led to an Oct. 9, 2013. meeting at which the informant handed Thompson a note offering the $7,500 bribe in return for a letter of support for his liquor license from the alderman.

"Okay, I understand, I understand." Thompson allegedly replied, stating that he would bring it up with the alderman.

The alderman's office allegedly shook down the informant for donations to the alderman's holiday toy drive and to co-sponsor the alderman's Christmas party, the complaint alleges.

After the informant agreed to pay those bribes, he was handed a letter from the alderman which read, "Please allow this letter to serve as my full support for a 7-Eleven convenience store…This store will be a welcomed addition to [my] community and those that patronize the area for shopping and convenience needs. As well as wine and spirits (alcohol)."

The informant attended the alderman's Christmas party on Dec. 19, and while walking out of the party with Thompson, allegedly gave Thompson a red envelope containing a Christmas card and 75 $100 bills. Thompson took the envelope from the informant, "felt it deliberately, looked at it and then placed it in a jacket pocket," according to the complaint.

If convicted, Thompson faces 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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