Federal Indictment Charges Former Mayor of Markham with Pocketing Bribes While in Office in Exchange for Steering City Work to Vendors
CHICAGO — The former mayor of south suburban Markham solicited and received bribes from vendors while in office in exchange for steering them city business, according to a 12-count indictment returned in federal court in Chicago.
The indictment accuses DAVID WEBB JR., who served as mayor of Markham from 2001 until earlier this year, of seeking and obtaining bribes from vendors in the construction and financial services industries. Three vendors provided a total of at least $300,000 in bribes to Webb in the form of cash payments, campaign contributions, purported donations to city programs, and checks made payable to shell companies operated by Webb and his relatives, the indictment states. As part of the bribery scheme, Webb allegedly used his influence as mayor to help the vendors maintain city business or procure new city contracts, including the renovation of a Markham park and the construction of a multi-million dollar senior living complex that would later be named in Webb’s honor.
The indictment was returned Thursday in federal court in Chicago. It charges Webb, 69, of Markham, with one count of honest services wire fraud and one count of willfully filing a false tax return. The indictment also charges an owner and an executive of two companies who allegedly paid bribes to Webb, as well as one of the companies itself. 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; Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Gabriel L. Grchan, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission provided valuable assistance. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven Dollear and Georgia Alexakis.
The indictment describes instances in which Webb personally solicited bribes from companies doing business with the city. In 2008, Webb allegedly sought money from THOMAS SUMMERS, an owner of Alsterda Cartage and Construction Co., Inc., an Alsip-based sewer subcontractor. Over the next five years, Summers and Alsterda issued at least seven checks to Webb totaling approximately $174,000, according to the indictment. Webb directed Summers to make the checks payable to a Webb family member or one of the shell companies controlled by Webb and his family that performed no actual work, the indictment states. Summers also delivered cash bribes to Webb and contributed to mayoral campaign events, the indictment states.
In exchange for the bribes, Webb allegedly used his position as mayor to take official action benefitting Alsterda, including causing Alsterda to be assigned city projects. Summers, 65, of Homer Glen, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery.
Webb also sought and received bribes from the general contractor on the senior center and park projects, the indictment states. In early 2012, Webb met with MICHAEL JARIGESE, the president of TOWER CONTRACTING LLC, and asked for $100,000, the indictment states. At the time, Tower was seeking to expand its portfolio of city business, which already included the nearly $15 million senior center. Jarigese later delivered two Tower-issued checks to Webb totaling $85,000, the indictment states. At Webb’s direction, Jarigese made the checks payable to one of the shell companies that Webb and his family controlled, which performed no actual work, and then fraudulently recorded them in Tower’s records as payment for contracting work and a donation to a Markham festival, the indictment states. The purported festival payment was described in the company’s records as “Tower giving back to the community,” the indictment states. Tower also contributed more than $150,000 to the mayor’s campaign and Markham events, the indictment states.
In exchange for the bribes, Webb allegedly used his position as mayor to take official action that benefited Tower, such as awarding it the $3.4 million Roesner Park project. Jarigese, 64, of Frankfort, and Tower, which is based in Mokena, are each charged with nine counts of honest services wire fraud and one count of federal program bribery.
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 count of honest services wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The maximum sentence for federal program bribery is ten years. The conspiracy count is punishable by up to five years, while the tax count carries a maximum of three years. If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.