A South Side Chicago alderman facing federal corruption charges will resign later this month.
Willie Cochran, 20th Ward, confirmed to WBEZ on Tuesday night that he will step down effective March 17.
In an email obtained by WBEZ, Cochran indicates he’ll plead guilty to one count of wire fraud and pay a $15,000 fine. He says the other 14 counts against him will be dropped, and that there was “no corruption.”
“I am sorry and apologize for being in this mess,” he said.
For more than two years, Willie Cochran has faced allegations that he abused his post as a Chicago City Council member by seeking bribes from businessmen and looting a charitable fund to pay personal expenses. He maintained his innocence when he was hit with federal charges in 2016, saying, “indictments are not guilty pleas.”
Cochran's announcement comes after news broke on Tuesday that court records show a “change of plea” hearing is scheduled for Cochran on March 21, indicating the embattled alderman intends to plead guilty after all.
The 15-count indictment includes one charge that made headlines: Cochran allegedly took $5,000 from a 20th Ward fund meant to help children and seniors. Prosecutors say he used the money to pay his daughter’s college tuition. v
The U.S. attorney's office said Wednesday morning it had no comment while the case is pending.