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Ex-Alderman, 85, Charged With Giving 35 Chicago 'Ghost' Jobs

December 15, 1995| From Associated Press

CHICAGO — An 85-year-old former alderman has been charged with giving "ghost" jobs to 35 friends and relatives who collected more than $1.5 million in pay and health benefits over two decades but did little or no work.

Anthony Laurino, who sat on the council for three decades, is the 23rd person charged in the ongoing investigation into ghost jobs at City Hall and in Cook County and state government.

Ten of the 35 people have been charged and nine convicted.

Prosecutors say Laurino got jobs on various council committees or county offices for his wife, a daughter and a stepdaughter, all of whom have pleaded guilty. The daughter's husband pleaded guilty to helping her and obstructing justice.

Prosecutors also contend that many precinct captains from Laurino's ward organization got do-nothing jobs on his Traffic Committee as investigators, that one precinct worker had his checks delivered to his Florida home and that Laurino's wife got paid for a time while living in Las Vegas.

Laurino says he's innocent and prosecutors are picking on a "sick, infirm and dying" man.

Authorities say ghost jobs have been so much a part of the city's political culture that some of those charged weren't sure what they had done wrong.

"In many instances, we get that sort of blank look: 'Well, what's wrong with that? Isn't it business as usual?' " said Brian Carroll, a Chicago FBI agent.

The announcement Wednesday of Laurino's indictment was just the latest development in several ongoing federal investigations into ghost jobs in city, county and state government. A total of 21 of 23 people charged in the past year have pleaded guilty.

Patronage and its illegal offshoot, ghost jobs, are a tradition in Chicago at least dating back to the early 1900s.

Even the late Mayor Harold Washington held a job in the city attorney's office in the 1960s in which he did little or no work, said colleagues interviewed by the Chicago Tribune in 1986.

"He'd only come by every two weeks to pick up a paycheck, and then once a month to pick up two checks," said Richard Troy, an attorney in the office at the time. "Finally, he asked to have the checks mailed to him."

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