A former high-ranking official in Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown’s office has been indicted on federal charges for lying to a grand jury that’s investigating hiring and promotion practices in the clerk’s office, federal prosecutors announced Friday.
According to a federal indictment, Beena Patel, 55, lied about selling tickets to Brown’s campaign fundraisers to fellow employees in the clerk’s office. She also lied about having knowledge of a scheme to score promotions and pay raises for another employee whose brother had given about $10,000 to Brown’s campaign fund, according to the indictment.
Federal prosecutors also say Patel lied about having contact with Sivasubramani Rajaram, a former Brown employee who himself pleaded guilty to lying to a grand jury about its investigation. Prosecutors allege that Patel said she did not know Rajaram had talked to law enforcement or that he testified before the panel, when she really did. Rajaram was sentenced to 3 years probation in February.
In a statement, Brown spokeswoman Jalyne Strong said Patel worked in the office from 1987 until August. Patel was “a longtime, excellent employee of the Clerk’s Office, and is a great person of honesty and integrity,” the statement said.
Brown and her husband, Benton Cook III, have not been charged with any crime.
Brown handily won reelection last year despite losing an endorsement from the Cook County Democratic Party. The about face by party leaders came after news broke that federal investigators were looking into Brown’s financial dealings. Brown said a federal agent approached her one morning on the street and presented her a subpoena for her government-issued cell phone.
“I was very shocked,” Brown said about the subpoena on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight, later adding that “no one pays to play in my office.”
Michael Puente is a reporter with WBEZ. You can follow him at @MikePuenteNews.