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Friday, August 05, 2005

Chicago Tribune | Millennium Park kickbacks charged

Chicago Tribune | Millennium Park kickbacks charged: "A former Chicago Park District official accepted cash, vacations to ski resorts, a pricey bicycle and even a manicure for steering millions of dollars in work at Millennium Park to a suburban landscaping company, federal authorities charged Thursday.

Shirley McMayon, the Park District's former director of natural resources, pocketed more than $137,000 in financial benefits from two executives of James Michael Inc., the Mundelein-based landscaper, an indictment charged.

In return for the payoffs, McMayon, 47, now of Park City, Utah, improperly used her influence to steer about $8 million in Park District work to the firm between 2000 and 2004, authorities charged.

Michael Lowecki, the company owner, and Kevin Haas, its former chief operations officer, were also charged in the indictment.

'They used the Park District coffers as sort of their personal playground,' U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald said at a news conference announcing the charges.

Fitzgerald said that 'one of the kickers in this case' was that the contractors didn't pay for most of the bribes themselves, instead padding their invoices to pass the cost of about $60,000 in payoffs to taxpayers. Among the phony invoices was a bill for about $10,000 for a non-existent global positioning system, he said."


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