CHICAGO — The owner of a suburban Chicago construction company has pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges for conspiring to bribe an employee of the Cook County Assessor’s Office in return for favorable property assessments.
ALEX NITCHOFF, 56, of Lemont, Ill., pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of conspiring to corruptly give something of value to influence and reward a public official, and one count of using an interstate facility to facilitate bribery. Each count is punishable by up to five years in federal prison. U.S. District Judge John F. Kness set sentencing for May 8, 2024.
Nitchoff admitted in a plea agreement that from 2016 to 2019 he conspired with others to corruptly provide home improvement services and materials to Cook County Assessor’s Office employee LAVDIM MEMISOVSKI, who assessed property values and reviewed property tax appeals for Cook County commercial properties. Nitchoff and others provided free home improvement services and materials at Memisovski’s personal residence, including a concrete pad, decking materials, dumpster usage, fascias and soffits, a fence, a gas line, heads for a sprinkler system, tile, and windows, the plea agreement states. In return for the benefits, Memisovski took official action to reduce the property taxes owed for Nitchoff’s properties by at least $550,000, the plea agreement states.
One of Nitchoff’s employees, JOHN BODENDORFER, 56, of Chicago, has pleaded not guilty to participating in the bribery scheme and is awaiting trial. Memisovski, 45, of Burbank, Ill., pleaded guilty last year to a conspiracy charge and is awaiting sentencing.
Nitchoff’s guilty plea was announced by Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert W. “Wes” Wheeler, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI. Valuable assistance was provided by the IRS Criminal Investigation Division and the City of Chicago Inspector General’s Office. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Vikas Didwania and Thomas Peabody.
Nitchoff, Bodendorfer, and Memisovski were among seven people charged in connection with the federal investigation. Two other Cook County Assessor’s Office employees, BASILIO CLAUSEN, 51, of Crown Point, Ind., and LUMNI LIKOVSKI, 47, of Burbank, Ill., have pleaded not guilty to bribery charges and are awaiting trial in connection with a scheme in which they allegedly accepted bribes from the owner of a fence installation company in return for reducing property assessments. The fence company owner, ROBERT MITZIGA, 65, of Dyer, Ind., also pleaded not guilty to bribery charges and is awaiting trial. The seventh defendant, former City of Chicago building inspector JOSEPH E. GARCIA, was sentenced to probation for falsely claiming to have inspected home repair projects for low-income Chicago homeowners, allowing the city to pay a contractor for work that at the time had not been performed.
The public is reminded that the defendants who have pleaded not guilty are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.