CHICAGO (CN) - In a biting opinion, the 7th Circuit upheld the convictions of four ex-city officials charged with acting as Mayor Richard M. Daley's cronies and doling out "thousands of city civil service jobs based on political patronage and nepotism."
Robert Sorich, Timothy McCarthy, John Sullivan and Patrick Slattery failed to convince the appellate court that their behavior might have been dubious, but was not criminal.
"The defendants created an illegitimate, shadow hiring scheme based on patronage and cronyism by filling out sham interview forms, falsely certifying that politics had not entered into their hiring, and covering up their malfeasance," Judge Williams wrote. "These are the hallmarks of fraud."
Prosecutors claimed the defendants hid their scheme by falsely assuring city lawyers that their hires were legitimate and by shredding evidence of nepotism.
After an eight-week trial in 2006, three of the defendants were convicted of mail fraud and the fourth of lying to federal investigators.
The men argued that because they did not personally profit from the scheme, it did not constitute mail fraud. The court disagreed.
Defendants also claimed that their actions never deprived Chicago citizens of money or property - a notion Judge Ann Williams quickly dispelled, saying "the jobs that they wrongfully gave away were indeed a kind of property."
"By setting up a false bureaucracy, the defendants arguably cheated the city out of hundreds of millions of dollars," she added.
Daley's former patronage chief, Sorich, received nearly four years in prison. Slattery, the former director of staff services in the Department of Streets and Sanitation, was sentenced to two years and three months, and Sorich's aide, McCarthy, began serving his 18-month sentence last year.