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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
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Bribery Alleged for O’Hare Contracts

CHICAGO (CN) - Federal prosecutors say a businessman bribed "an agent of the city of Chicago" to try to get restaurant contracts at O'Hare Airport. The "agent" is Chicago Alderman Ike Carothers, according to newspaper reports. Carothers helped nail the businessman "in the hopes of receiving a recommendation for a reduced sentence" on his own felony bribery charges, according to an FBI agent's affidavit.

Wafeek "Wally" Aiyash, 50, of Naperville, offered up to $100,000 and delivered more than $40,000 in bribes, according to the recently unsealed criminal complaint and FBI affidavit.

Aiyash and the city agent - a cooperating witness - discussed the bidding process and Aiyash's bribe offers in conversations and by writing notes on business cards, according to the affidavit. Some of their meetings were recorded on video, and the FBI recorded their phone conversations.

Aiyash paid the witness more than $40,000, and promised more as the scheme moved forward, the FBI agent said. Aiyash also gave the witness a list of airport locations he wanted for seven restaurants he wanted to open with business partners, the agent said.

"Cooperating Witness ('CW') is an agent of the City of Chicago. CW is currently charged with bribery, among other felony charges. CW has been cooperating with the government since 2008 and is cooperating in the hopes of receiving a recommendation for a reduced sentence in connection with the charges," according to the affidavit filed with the criminal complaint.

From 2007-08, Aiyash gave the witness $40,000 to $50,000 to get help in approvals for property development, the FBI agent said.

The Chicago Sun-Times identified the city employee as Chicago Alderman Isaac "Ike" Carothers. Carothers is on the City Council's Aviation Committee. He was charged with felonies this summer.

According to the FBI agent's affidavit: "CW informed the government that in 2007, Aiyash provided CW with approximately $40,000 to $50,000 in cash payments in order to influence CW's assistance in obtaining the requisite approvals to develop certain property owned by Aiyash. Specifically, CW stated that in approximately the spring of 2007, Aiyash handed CW an envelope containing at least $5,000 in cash. CW said that Aiyash gave CW additional cash payments of around $5,000 to $10,000 on several occasions during the next few months. According to CW, Aiyash always provided the payments to CW in an envelope and stated 'this is for you' when handing the envelope to CW. CW understood that Aiyash paid CW in order to 'be in favor' with CW."

If convicted of the federal bribery charges, Aiyash faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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