Mayor of Niles Arrested

June 8, 2006

The long-time mayor of the Chicago suburb of Niles was arrested today on charges of mail fraud.

Nicholas Blase is charged with steering business to a friend's insurance agency, Ralph Weiner and Associates.

Federal prosecutor Gary Shapiro says Blase has been abusing his power since 1989.

"As one of the witnesses who worked for the Weiner agency told federal agents, I felt like I was putting a gun to somebody's head.' What choice did any business owner have if the mayor of Niles was calling them and saying they should use a particular insurance agency?" Shapiro says.

The mayor denies any wrongdoing and called the allegations "crazy."

Blase was first elected back in 1961.

Today's the mayor's 78th birthday.

He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.