In a recent case, a consultant named Roberto Caldero has been sentenced to over four and a half years in federal prison for bribing City of Chicago officials in order to benefit his clients. Caldero pleaded guilty to wire fraud and admitted that he offered bribes to a City of Chicago alderman and a Chicago Public Schools employee. The bribes were given in exchange for official actions that would benefit Caldero’s clients. However, unbeknownst to Caldero, the alderman was cooperating with the FBI. U.S. District Judge Steven Seeger sentenced Caldero to 57 months in prison. This case highlights the consequences of engaging in corrupt practices within the government system.
In a recent case of public corruption, a consultant has been sentenced to over four and a half years in prison for bribing city officials in Chicago. Roberto Caldero, a 70-year-old resident of Chicago, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in September 2022. Caldero admitted that in 2016, he offered and arranged for bribes to be given to a City of Chicago alderman and a Chicago Public Schools employee in exchange for official actions benefiting his clients. These actions included securing a custodial services contract at CPS, an honorary street name designation in Chicago, and the renaming of a parcel of property believed to be a Chicago Park District park.
Details of the Case
Caldero, in his plea agreement, acknowledged offering various benefits to the CPS employee, including the possibility of future employment, champagne, discounted event space for a family event, and admission to an annual benefit for a museum. In an effort to influence the alderman, Caldero arranged for campaign contributions to be made to political organizations related to the alderman or his ward. It was later revealed that the alderman was cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) without Caldero’s knowledge.
In September 2022, Caldero pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. Through his guilty plea, Caldero admitted his involvement in the bribery scheme and provided details of his actions and intentions. By accepting responsibility for his actions, Caldero demonstrated a willingness to cooperate with law enforcement and help bring justice to the case.
On April 14, 2023, U.S. District Judge Steven Seeger sentenced Caldero to 57 months in federal prison for his involvement in the bribery scheme. The judge’s decision reflects the seriousness of Caldero’s actions and serves as a deterrent to future acts of public corruption.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michelle Kramer and Amarjeet Bhachu represented the government in the case against Caldero. Their dedicated efforts and commitment to justice were instrumental in securing a guilty plea and a significant prison sentence for the consultant.
Investigation and Prosecution
The FBI played a crucial role in investigating and uncovering the bribery scheme orchestrated by Caldero. Their agents worked diligently to gather evidence, identify key witnesses, and ensure a thorough and comprehensive case against the consultant. The cooperation between the FBI and the alderman, who wore a wire during his interactions with Caldero, was vital in uncovering the full extent of the bribery scheme.
Participation of Chicago Public Schools Office of Inspector General
The Chicago Public Schools Office of Inspector General actively participated in the investigation, providing support and resources to assist in the case against Caldero. Their expertise and commitment to integrity in public service contributed to the successful prosecution and conviction of the consultant.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michelle Kramer and Amarjeet Bhachu represented the government in the prosecution of Caldero. Their extensive experience and dedication to justice ensured that the case was handled with the utmost professionalism, resulting in a guilty plea and a substantial prison sentence for the consultant.
Impact of the Bribes
Benefit to Caldero’s Clients
The bribes offered by Caldero were intended to secure favorable treatment and outcomes for his clients. The custodial services contract at Chicago Public Schools, the honorary street name designation, and the renaming of a park were all sought after by Caldero’s clients. By engaging in bribery, Caldero aimed to give his clients an unfair advantage in their dealings with the city officials responsible for making these decisions.
Effects on City Officials
The acts of bribery committed by Caldero had a significant impact on the city officials involved. By accepting bribes, these officials compromised their ethical responsibilities and betrayed the trust of the public. Their involvement tarnishes the reputation of the City of Chicago and undermines the integrity of the public office. The sentencing of Caldero sends a strong message that public corruption will not be tolerated, holding not only the briber but also the officials accountable for their actions.
Ethical and Legal Implications
The bribery scheme orchestrated by Caldero raises serious ethical and legal concerns. Bribing public officials undermines the democratic process and erodes public confidence in the integrity of government institutions. It is essential to uphold the highest standards of ethical conduct and ensure that those who engage in corruption face severe consequences. By prosecuting and sentencing Caldero, the justice system has reaffirmed its commitment to combating public corruption and preserving the principles of fairness and transparency.
Previous Corruption Cases
Fraud Scheme by Former DCFS Employee
In another case of public corruption, a former employee of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) was charged with orchestrating a $3.2 million fraud scheme. The employee, Shauntele Y. Pridgeon, allegedly carried out the scheme while working for DCFS in Chicago from 2016 to 2022. The 41-count indictment against Pridgeon detailed her involvement in fraudulent activities, highlighting the need for robust oversight and accountability in government agencies.
Bribery Scheme with Illinois State Lawmaker
A businessman, James T. Weiss, was convicted of participating in a bribery scheme with a former Illinois state lawmaker. Weiss, the owner of the gaming company Collage LLC, was found guilty on all counts against him. The case shed light on the illicit relationships that can develop between private entities and public officials, emphasizing the importance of strict enforcement of anti-corruption laws.
Kickbacks by Department of Veterans Affairs Procurement Supervisor
A former procurement supervisor at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Thomas E. Duncan, pleaded guilty to receiving kickbacks in exchange for awarding contracts. Duncan admitted to pocketing thousands of dollars in kickbacks, compromising the integrity and fairness of the procurement process. This case highlights the potential for corruption within government agencies and the need for robust inspection and oversight.
Sentence and Outcome
Length of Prison Sentence
Roberto Caldero, the consultant involved in the bribery scheme, has been sentenced to 57 months in federal prison. This significant prison sentence reflects the seriousness of Caldero’s actions and serves as a deterrent to others who may consider engaging in public corruption. The length of the sentence underscores the commitment of the justice system to uphold the principles of fairness and integrity in government.
Announcement of Sentence
The prison sentence for Caldero was announced by Morris Pasqual, the Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert W. Wheeler, Jr., the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI. The announcement of the sentence sends a clear message that public corruption will be vigorously prosecuted, and those who engage in such activities will face severe consequences.
Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois
Morris Pasqual, the Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, played a critical role in ensuring justice in the case against Caldero. Pasqual’s leadership and dedication to upholding the rule of law contributed to the successful prosecution and sentencing of the consultant. His commitment to transparency and accountability underscores the importance of ethical conduct in public service.
Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI
Robert W. Wheeler, Jr., the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI, led the investigative efforts in the case against Caldero. Wheeler and his team worked tirelessly to gather evidence, identify key witnesses, and ensure a comprehensive investigation. The successful prosecution of Caldero is a testament to the FBI’s commitment to combating public corruption and maintaining the integrity of government institutions.
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Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division
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In conclusion, the sentencing of Roberto Caldero to over four and a half years in federal prison for bribing city officials highlights the commitment of the justice system to combat public corruption. The case serves as a reminder of the ethical and legal implications of bribery and the importance of upholding the highest standards of integrity in government. Through the diligent efforts of law enforcement agencies and government representatives, justice has been served, and the principles of fairness and transparency have been upheld. The Northern District of Illinois remains dedicated to ensuring accountability and fostering public trust in government institutions.