Wednesday, August 31, 2005

shame jan s.

Schakowsky's husband pleads guilty to fraud

August 31, 2005


A political consultant who once headed the largest public interest lobbying group in Illinois pleaded guilty Wednesday to $2.3 million in bank fraud and a federal tax violation.

Robert Creamer, 58, the husband of U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., could face more than four years in federal prison at sentencing, which is scheduled for Dec. 21.

Schakowsky stood by his side as Creamer, former head of the Illinois Public Action group, told reporters there was "no doubt that my actions a decade ago were very foolish and placed myself, my family, the organization and many of those who worked with me at considerable risk."

"I am very deeply sorry and I offer a sincere apology to anyone who has been affected by my conduct," Creamer said, accompanied at a news conference by about two dozen of his supporters.

Schakowsky, who lives in Evanston and represents parts of northern Chicago and its suburbs, expressed doubt that the case would attract a tough challenger into her overwhelmingly Democratic district in next year's congressional primary election.

"I love my husband," Schakowsky said. She said Creamer "has worked all of his adult life to build organizations that empower the powerless, he has fought for causes that make life better for everyday people."

Creamer is one of Chicago's best-known political consultants. He has worked for the campaigns of both Mayor Richard M. Daley and Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Minutes after Creamer pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge James B. Moran, he and his supporters took issue with what prosecutors said were significant sums of money lost by banks as a result of three complex, so-called check-kiting schemes he admitted that he had engineered.

Creamer said in a statement that "no bank ever did lose any money as a result of my conduct in 1997 or at any other time while I was at Illinois Public Action."

Creamer admitted in his 18-page signed plea agreement that he wrote checks on accounts that lacked sufficient funds to cover them. He was able to do this repeatedly because he moved money from one account to another in three banks in 1997, playing what bankers describe as the float and thus making them believe that the accounts had more money in them than they actually did.

When the three banks realized there was a problem and froze the accounts in May 1997, there was a positive balance in two of the accounts, according to the plea agreement. But it said that his account in Chicago's Cole Taylor Bank had a negative balance of $2.385 million.

At the time, there were $370,000 in insufficiently funded checks outstanding, the document said. Prosecutors said, however, that when Creamer is sentenced the $2.385 million figure will represent the amount of the fraud. They said it took months to pay off the negative balance.

Creamer acknowledged that he had operated two other check-kiting schemes, which took place in 1993 and 1996. In addition, he pleaded guilty to failing to collect $1,800 in withholding tax from an employee of his political consulting firm. He used the $1,800 to pay a debt to a creditor of Illinois Public Action "whom I believed could not afford to lose the money."

Before Creamer entered his plea, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Ferguson told the court that bank fraud is an offense that may not be punished by probation.

Nevertheless, veteran defense counsel Theodore Poulos told reporters he believes that Moran can fashion a sentence that would involve no incarceration for Creamer. He was asked if that meant house arrest or something similar and said it could be that. But he added later that his goal is to get Creamer a sentence that would avoid any confinement.

"This case involves a host of extraordinary mitigating factors that are rarely present in a prosecution on these types of charges," Poulos said. He said he hoped that the court would "take into account that Bob Creamer did not take these actions for personal gain, that there was never any loss to any bank, that these charges are a decade old."

Ferguson, however, maintained that the banks effectively made loans they didn't even know they were making when they honored Creamer's checks. He said in some cases it took months for Creamer to erase the negative balances and that represented a significant loss to the banks.


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Blogger Rogers Park Taxpayer said...

Does anyone know what prison Creamer was sent to?

5:20 PM  

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