Friday, July 20, 2007

Former corrections chief and contractors indicted


Donald Snyder Jr., former director of the Illinois Department of Corrections, was indicted on federal charges of receiving about $50,000 in illegal kickbacks from two lobbyists who represented health-care companies holding large contracts with the state. The indictments stem from a federal investigation, “Operation Safe Road,” that led to the corruption conviction of former Gov. George Ryan. The former governor appointed Snyder, of Pittsfield, to his post that ran from 1999 to 2003.

“As a top state official, Mr. Snyder was bound by various rules governing his acceptance of gifts or favors of any kind,” said U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in a press release. “He was forbidden from receiving cash kickbacks from anyone, much less from lobbyists representing companies doing millions of dollars in business with IDOC.”

Lobbyist John Robinson of Barrington Hills in northern Illinois represented an Illinois-based company that held a multi-million dollar contract with the state to provide health-care services for Illinois inmates. He also is the former Cook County undersheriff. Between 1996 and 2003, he allegedly arranged a contract with the health-care company to receive $2,500 a month in addition to 5 percent of the company’s income from contracts with the Department of Corrections. The indictment says Robinson expected to get an increased payment of $4,500 a month as soon as the health-care company’s state contract exceeded $4 million.

Larry Sims of Pleasant Plains in central Illinois, represented a Pennsylvania health-care company that also held multi-million dollar contracts with the corrections department. He allegedly co-schemed with Snyder and Robinson to file false statements with the state to hide the illegal payments to Snyder.

Snyder and Robinson were each charged with five counts of mail fraud, one carrying a maximum sentence of one year in prison and four others carrying up to 20 years in prison. Sims was charged with one count of perjury for allegedly lying to a grand jury during the investigation, an offense carrying a maximum punishment of five years in prison. The indictment also seeks $50,000 from Snyder. If convicted, all three also could have to pay a $250,000 fine on each count.

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