Chicago Alderman Austin and her Chief of Staff Indicted on Bribery Charges
Two years ago, the offices of Chicago’s 34th Ward’s Alderman, Carrie Austin, were raided by federal authorities. Allegedly, Austin and her top aid received home improvement perks from a prospective real-estate developer. The improvements are said to include custom cabinetry, granite countertops, plumbing and HVAC improvements, and even bathroom tiling.
On 1 July, Austin was charged with one count of conspiring to use interstate facilities to promote bribery, along with other charges. Alderman Austin is not alone; she is one of three sitting alderman in the city of Chicago to come under federal investigation and is the second to face charges this year. Austin’s aide, Chester Wilson, is charged with bribery charges as well as one count of theft of government funds. The developer in question is now deceased but was working on a large project in Austin’s ward at the time.
Wilson allegedly texted one contractor a picture of kitchen cabinets that she wanted installed.
Austin said she would support resurfacing city streets within the development. After that, a contractor paid for Austin’s new kitchen cabinets, claiming they were for an address within the development.
Austin allegedly asked a developer for tiling — in “white or vein white” — for a bathroom, according to the indictment. A day later she accepted his offer for expensive “brand new” sump pumps, according to the indictment.
In a phone call about changes to tax increment financing that would have benefited the contractor, Wilson allegedly told the developer, “make sure they do my heating and air.”
Not long afterward, that developer even offered to help pay for part of the new HVAC at Wilson’s investment property, then texted an associate, “if I get what I want next week, it’s worth it.”