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Billionaire faces extradition to Chicago on racketeering charge

Those who have been around Chicago for a while undoubtedly recall Operation Greylord, the 1980s investigation into corruption among Cook County judges, cops, court officials and others. One of the prosecutors who headed the undercover operation was Dan Webb, then U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

Webb has long since been in private practice, now representing Ukrainian industrialist Dmitry Firtash, who officials want to extradite to Chicago to face racketeering charges. The wealthy businessman is accused of masterminding a scheme in which officials in India were allegedly bribed to approve titanium mining operations.

The titanium was reportedly destined for Chicago defense contractor and aerospace behemoth, Boeing.

A federal grand jury indicted Firtash on charges of bribery, racketeering, and money laundering. The billionaire was arrested in Austria four years ago and has been confined to his home there ever since.

Webb recently said the industrialist "could face extradition in a short time frame” after a decision later this month by the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg.

A Chicago TV station reports that Webb has asked U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer in Chicago to throw out the case against his client. Among the problems with the charges, he noted in his filed motions, is that Firtash has never even been to Chicago.

One of the Ukrainian magnate’s past business associates is former Trump presidential campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. It’s not known if his cooperation extends to the Firtash case.

Those who are subjects of federal investigations should speak with skilled attorneys experienced in white collar defense before talking to investigators or prosecutors.

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Darryl A. Goldberg
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