Crooked Code

Following the direction in its ordinance to “to investigate the performance of governmental… employees… in order to detect and prevent misconduct, inefficiency and waste within the programs and operations of the city government,” OIG initiated an investigation into allegations of Department of Buildings inspectors taking bribes. In 2006, this operation expanded into a joint federal corruption investigation between OIG and the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), now known as Operation Crooked Code. Phase One of Operation Crooked Code led to the arrest and conviction of six people, including five City of Chicago employees and one private contractor. They were arrested on federal bribery charges for exchanging cash payments with an undercover cooperating witness relating to various zoning and building permit matters. Phase 2 of Operation Crooked Code, also spearheaded by OIG, the USPIS, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the US Department of Labor Inspector General’s Office lead to the arrest of 17 additional individuals. This included the arrest of nine City employees and eight private contractors and expeditors, primarily for exchanging cash payments and other benefits with a corrupt former expeditor for short-cutting the City’s building, zoning, and permitting process. Evidence against these defendants included recordings made by cooperating witnesses and a court-authorized wire tap. Phase 2 of Operation Crooked Code has lead to 11 convictions; four defendants have federal trials coming up. As a result of Operation Crooked Code, the OIG has been able to identify a systemic problem in City operations, and to demonstrate to Chicago taxpayers that OIG’s mission of rooting out corruption is a number one priority.

Related Information

Crooked Code: Former City Employee Sentenced for Role in Operation Crooked Code

The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General and the United States Attorney’s Office announced that a former City employee was sentenced to one year and one day in prison after having been found guilty of two counts of bribery. In November 2011, Dominick Owens, of Chicago, was found guilty of accepting two separate bribes … [Read More…]

Crooked Code: Expediter Sentenced to Three Years Probation

A former Chicago woman who provided extraordinary cooperation in Operation Crooked Code, a federal public corruption investigation of the City of Chicago building permit process, avoided prison and was sentenced on January 14, 2011 to three years of probation. The defendant, Catherine Romasanta, testified in four federal trials about how she paid bribes to city … [Read More…]

Crooked Code: City Inspector Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for Bribery of Probe Permits

A City of Chicago building inspector was sentenced December 17, 2010 to three years in federal prison after being convicted at trial in September on bribery charges for accepting two $1,000 cash bribes from a cooperating contractor and demanding two $2,000 cash bribes from developers to approve inspections at residential and commercial construction sites, federal … [Read More…]

Crooked Code: Contractor Sentenced For Bribery Under Operation Crooked Code

 A former general contractor was sentenced to 5 years of probation today December 13, 2010 in federal court. Padraig Gravin pled guilty to bribery charges on March 2, 2010 for trying to pay a $500 bribe to a City official. The bribe was meant to secure a favorable inspection related to the issuance of a … [Read More…]

Crooked Code: City Employee Sentenced to 21 Months in Federal Prison

A City of Chicago employee was sentenced to 21 months in prison today August 27, 2010 for bribery. Tom Ziroli, a 64 year old former Ventilation Inspector with the Department of Buildings, was also sentenced to two years of supervised release, a $15,000 fine, an additional $100 special assessment, and will be required to pay … [Read More…]

Crooked Code: City Zoning Investigator Sentenced to 31 Months

The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General and the United States Attorney’s Office announced that a City of Chicago Zoning Investigator was sentenced to 31 months in prison today to be followed by two years of supervised release as a result of his conviction for accepting a $500 bribe in exchange for providing a … [Read More…]

Crooked Code: Inspector pleads guilty, agrees to cooperate

A City of Chicago zoning inspector has pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery. In exchange for his cooperation, federal prosecutors are recommending that William Wellhausen be sentenced to 15 months in prison and pay fines totaling more than $33,000.

Crooked Code: City inspector arrested, charged with bribery

A City of Chicago building inspector was arrested and charged in a federal criminal complaint for allegedly accepting cash bribes. The complaint alleges Dominick Owens took more than $20,000 in bribes. In return for delivering Certificates of Occupancy for numerous construction projects.

Crooked Code: Federal Jury Convicts City Buildings Supervisor

A jury in U.S. District Court has convicted Michael Reese (a Supervising Building/Construction Inspector for the City of Chicago) on two counts of making false statements and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud. Reese becomes the 12th person convicted as part of “Operation Crooked Code”, a joint investigation between the Department of Justice and … [Read More…]

Crooked Code: City Employees Charged in Federal Bribery Probe

Fifteen defendants (including property owners and developers, contractors and seven City of Chicago inspectors) were arrested on federal bribery charges. Most of them for allegedly exchanging cash payments and other benefits with a former corrupt “expediter” relating to various city building, zoning and related permit matters. Federal law enforcement officials and the city’s Inspector General … [Read More…]

Crooked Code: Three City Inspectors and a Private Contractor Charged

Three City of Chicago inspectors and a private contractor have been arrested on federal bribery charges for allegedly exchanging cash payments with an undercover former city employee relating to various city building and permit matters. Federal law enforcement officials and the city’s Inspector General announced today March 15, 2007. A series of three arrests began … [Read More…]