Chicago City Hall

Another Chicago Alderman Convicted

March 21, 2019 - 4:57 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) – Chicago 20th Ward Ald. Willie Cochran accepted a plea deal with federal prosecutors Thursday, becoming the latest in a long line of sitting City Council members to be convicted of corruption since the 1970s.

Cochran had earlier rejected the plea deal, vowing to fight the charges, 15 altogether, alleging wire fraud, extortion and bribery.

Prosecutors agreed to drop all but one of the counts, wire fraud, in exchange for the plea. He admitted to taking money intended for charity and spending it on college tuition for his daughter and trips to a casino, among other things.

A prosecutor said the total was more than $14,000.  Cochran’s lawyer said he reported the money on his taxes and said he looks forward to repaying the money.

Cochran, a cop for 26 years and an alderman for a dozen, in 2007 unseated an alderman who went to prison, Arenda Troutman.

When he’s sentenced in June, Cochran could face a sentence ranging from probation to 18 months in prison. 

He did not run for re-election.

By former Ald. Dick Simpson's count, Cochran is the 34th sitting alderman to be convicted of a crime, but the shameful precedent dates back all the way to 1865, he said.

Simpson, a political scientist, says that makes the council one of the "highest crime zones" in the nation. He notes pending federal cases against Alds. Ed Burke (14) and Danny Solis (25).

He said Chicagoans have a rare chance to achieve meaningful City Council change April 2 if they vote in one of the 15 aldermanic runoff elections.