Former Chief of Staff to Speaker of the Illinois House Convicted of Lying Under Oath to Federal Grand Jury
CHICAGO — The Commissioner of the Bloomingdale Township Road District received kickbacks from the owner of an excavation company in exchange for approving hundreds of thousands of dollars in invoices for purported road work, most of which was never performed, according to an indictment returned in federal court in Chicago.
The indictment accuses Commissioner ROBERT CZERNEK of receiving more than $280,000 in kickbacks from DEBRA FAZIO, the owner of Bloomingdale-based Bulldog Earth Movers Inc. (“BEM”), and MARIO GIANNINI, a BEM employee. In exchange for the secret kickbacks, Czernek used his official position to approve and cause the approval for payment of stone delivery, dump leveling, and storm sewer invoices submitted by BEM to Bloomingdale Township, the indictment states. Czernek approved the invoices knowing that much of the work and services had not actually been performed by BEM, the indictment states. The fraud scheme spanned eight years and resulted in Bloomingdale Township issuing checks totaling more than $700,000 to BEM, the indictment states.
The 20-count indictment was returned Wednesday. It charges Czernek, 69, Fazio, 63, and Giannini, 58, all of Bloomingdale, with 14 counts of honest services wire fraud. Fazio is also charged with six counts of money laundering. Arraignments in U.S. District Court in Chicago have not yet been scheduled.
The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI. Valuable assistance was provided by the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher V. Parente.
According to the indictment, Czernek would leave handwritten notes for Giannini hidden in various secluded places on Bloomingdale Township Highway Department property. The notes included a description of work purportedly performed by BEM and the number of hours that BEM purportedly spent on the work, the indictment states. Fazio would later submit invoices to Bloomingdale Township that repeated virtually verbatim the wording used by Czernek in the notes, the indictment states.
The indictment seeks forfeiture from the defendants of several items allegedly criminally derived from the charged offenses, including a 1981 Corvette and 2014 Lexus RX350 held by Czernek, and several pieces of large excavation equipment purchased by BEM during the scheme.
The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Each fraud count in the indictment is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, while the maximum sentence for each count of money laundering is ten years. If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.