Even more Cook County public corruption arrests as Board of Review analysts charged

July 18, 2012

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Another day, another Cook County public corruption announcement from the U.S. attorney's office. Two county tax analysts were arrested Wednesday for allegedly taking bribes to lower property assessments.

Two staff members with the Cook County Board of Review are accused of taking a cash bribe from a government informant.

Prosecutors said, in exchange, John Racasi and Thomas Hawkins promised to work with other Board of Review staff to lower property assessments on three Cook County homes.

The feds caught on tape the payoff and other conversations related to the set-up, which took place in 2008, almost four years ago. The U.S. attorney's office said charges against the men were delayed until now, because the government informant was involved in other investigations.

There's no allegation that past or present Board of Review Commissioners, who are elected, were aware of the scheme.

According to the board, in 2008 Racasi and Hawkins were assigned to the staff of Commissioner Larry Rogers. Roger is the only current board member who served at that time.

"Once the situation is understood and the charges have been presented, the Board will take appropriate measures," read a joint statement from Rogers and the two other current commissioners, Dan Patlak and Michael Cabonargi. "In the meantime, the employees have been suspended with pay. The Board of Review and Commissioners will cooperate with the investigation."

These past three weeks, there's been a steady stream of public corruption announcements from the U.S. Attorneys office.

Those arrested include a former Cook County commissioner, a former Chicago alderman, the former head of a county job training program and two county corrections officers.