Back in 1998, a group of 46 states – including Illinois – reached the largest settlement in history with tobacco companies. The $206 billion settlement included $9.3 billion for Illinois to compensate the state for tobacco-related health-care costs.
According to federal prosecutors, former Chicago Ald. Edward Vrdolyak and his friend Daniel Soso scammed about $10 million for themselves out of the settlement though they did no work on the case. Soso, 67, and Vrdolyak, 82, have each pled guilty to a single count of tax evasion and are awaiting sentencing.
Prosecutors recently recommended to the court a three-year prison term for Soso, who is to be sentenced in days. Vrdolyak is scheduled for an early April sentencing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu wrote in a court filing that if Soso is spared years behind bars, it will reinforce the notion that “well-heeled white-collar criminal defendants and the politically connected are held to a different standard than others.”
Of course, many would argue that the case of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich demonstrates the opposite. Blagojevich’s harsh 14-year prison sentence was recently commuted by President Trump after the former governor had served eight years in a federal penitentiary.
In his own court filing, Soso argued that he has paid a significant price for his wrongdoing. His career is in tatters, he said, and the case has negatively affected the lives of his loved ones.
Vrdolyak argued that the fees he and Soso received from the tobacco settlement were legitimate and agreed to by the parties involved.
Allegations of public corruption are invariably complex, requiring the assistance of a criminal defense attorney experienced not only in federal and state courts, but also in helping clients under investigation avoid formal charges. Contact the Chicago law offices of Darryl A. Goldberg at 773-793-3196 to schedule an appointment to discuss your legal options.