Ald. Carrie Austin, chief of staff plead not guilty on federal bribery charges

Chicago Crime

CHICAGO — Alderwoman Carrie Austin and her chief of staff pleaded not guilty Thursday after they were indicted last week on federal bribery charges.

Austin, 72, of the 34th Ward, is charged with one count of conspiring to use interstate facilities to promote bribery, two counts of using interstate facilities to promote bribery and one count of willfully making materially false statements to the FBI.

The indictment revolves around plans for a nearly $50 million development in her ward. It comes two years after federal officials raided Austin’s ward office.

Austin’s chief of staff, Chester Wilson, 55, is also charged with one count of conspiring to use interstate facilities to promote bribery, two counts of using interstate facilities to promote bribery and one count of theft of government funds.

The indictment alleges that beginning in 2016, a construction company bribed Austin and her chief of staff with free home improvements in an attempt to curry favor and in exchange for the contract to a development project.

In July 2017, according to the indictment, prosecutors said Austin used a cellphone to solicit bathroom tiles in white or vein white from a developer who is now deceased. The next day, she is accused of accepting the developer’s offer to pay for two brand new and expensive sump pumps at her residence.

Austin is now the third sitting alderman under federal indictment. Ald. Ed Burke was indicted in 2019 and Patrick Daley Thompson was indicted in April.

Full indictment of Ald. Carrie Austin and her chief of staff is below.

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