The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that three individuals have been charged in connection with a property tax bribery scheme in Cook County. Robert Mitziga, the owner of Fence Masters, Inc., along with two employees of the Cook County Assessor’s Office (CCAO), Basilis Clausen and Lumni Likovski, allegedly conspired to bribe CCAO employees in exchange for reduced property assessments for properties owned by Fence Masters and another company, referred to as Company A. The indictment details how the scheme involved bribes in the form of golf outings, food, and drinks. If convicted, the defendants could face sentences ranging from 5 to 10 years in federal prison.
Charges and Participants
Overview of the charges
Three individuals have been charged in a bribery scheme involving the Cook County Assessor’s Office (CCAO). The charges allege that from February to November 2017, Robert Mitziga, the owner of Fence Masters, Inc., conspired with Basilio Clausen, an executive of Company A, Lumni Likovski, a residential field inspector at CCAO, and Lavdim Memisovski, a director of taxpayer services at CCAO. The bribery scheme involved offering reduced property assessments in exchange for bribes.
Individuals involved in the bribery scheme
The individuals charged in the bribery scheme are:
- Robert Mitziga: Owner of Fence Masters, Inc.
- Basilio Clausen: Executive of Company A
- Lumni Likovski: Residential field inspector at CCAO
- Lavdim Memisovski: Director of taxpayer services at CCAO
It is alleged that Mitziga bribed Clausen, Likovski, and Memisovski, while Likovski accepted a bribe as a public official.
Description of Cook County Assessor’s Office
The Cook County Assessor’s Office (CCAO) is responsible for assessing the value of properties in Cook County, Illinois. They determine the fair market value of properties for the purpose of property tax assessments. The CCAO plays a crucial role in ensuring that property owners pay accurate property taxes based on the assessed value of their properties.
Introduction to Fence Masters, Inc.
Fence Masters, Inc. is a Chicago-area fence installation company owned by Robert Mitziga. The company specializes in providing high-quality fence installation services to residential and commercial properties in the area.
Overview of Company A
Company A, the name of which is not stated in the available information, is a company that had properties in Cook County. They appealed the re-assessed values of their properties to the CCAO.
Timeline of the Bribery Scheme
Start of the bribery scheme in February 2017
According to the indictment, the bribery scheme began in February 2017 and continued until November of the same year. During this period, Mitziga, Clausen, Likovski, and Memisovski allegedly conspired to bribe CCAO employees in exchange for reduced property assessments.
Bribes and activities from February to November 2017
Throughout the duration of the bribery scheme, Mitziga and the executive from Company A offered bribes to Clausen, Likovski, and Memisovski. These bribes took the form of golf outings, food, and drinks. In return for these bribes, Clausen and Likovski circumvented the regular system of random assignment of appeals and directed the appeals to Memisovski. Memisovski then reduced the assessed values on the properties owned by Fence Masters and Company A.
Separate charges and guilty pleas in July 2022
On July 6, 2022, Lavdim Memisovski was charged separately by information for conspiring to accept bribes. He pled guilty to having engaged in a bribery scheme with the owner of a Chicago area construction company from 2016 to 2019.
Details of the Scheme
Bribes in the form of golf outings, food, and drinks
As part of the bribery scheme, Mitziga and the executive from Company A offered bribes in the form of golf outings, food, and drinks to Clausen, Likovski, and Memisovski. These bribes were given in exchange for reduced property assessments on properties owned by Fence Masters and Company A.
Circumvention of the appeals assignment process
Clausen and Likovski, as agents of the CCAO, circumvented the regular system of random assignment of appeals. Instead of assigning appeals randomly, they directed the appeals to Memisovski, who played a role in reducing the assessed values on the properties owned by Fence Masters and Company A.
Reduction of assessed values on properties
The main objective of the bribery scheme was to secure reduced property assessments for properties owned by Fence Masters and Company A. Memisovski, with the knowledge and involvement of Clausen and Likovski, played a key role in reducing the assessed values on these properties, resulting in potentially lower property tax obligations for the owners.
Indictment and Guilt
Official announcement of the indictment
The charges against Robert Mitziga, Basilio Clausen, Lumni Likovski, and Lavdim Memisovski were announced in an official indictment. It is important to note that an indictment only represents a charge and is not evidence of guilt.
Presumption of innocence and fair trial
According to the principles of law, the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. They are entitled to a fair trial, during which the government has the burden of proving their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The justice system ensures that all defendants have the opportunity to present their defense and challenge the allegations made against them.
Possible sentence range and sentencing guidelines
If convicted, the defendants in the bribery scheme could face a possible sentence range of 5 to 10 years in federal prison. The court will determine the precise sentence based on federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which take various factors into account to ensure an appropriate and reasonable sentence.
Similar Cases of Public Corruption
Related case involving fraud scheme at Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
In a related case, a former employee of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and 14 others were charged in a $3.2 million fraud scheme. The indictment alleges that the former DCFS employee orchestrated the scheme from 2016 to 2022 while working for DCFS in Chicago.
Conviction in bribery scheme with former Illinois State lawmaker
In another case, a federal jury convicted a businessman of participating in a bribery scheme with a former Illinois State lawmaker. The defendant, the owner of a gaming company, was found guilty on all counts against him.
Guilty verdict for procurement supervisor in kickback scheme at Department of Veterans Affairs
A procurement supervisor at the Department of Veterans Affairs was found guilty of pocketing kickbacks in a kickback scheme. The individual received thousands of dollars in kickbacks and will be sentenced at a later date.
Address and email for Northern District of Illinois
For inquiries or information related to the case, you can contact the Northern District of Illinois at the following address and email:
- Address: Northern District of Illinois, [Street Address], [City], [State], [Zip Code]
- Email: [Email Address]
Contact numbers for Chicago and Rockford offices
If you prefer to contact the Chicago or Rockford offices directly, you can reach them at the following contact numbers:
- Chicago Office: [Contact Number]
- Rockford Office: [Contact Number]
Links to social media accounts
Stay updated on the latest news and developments by following the social media accounts of the relevant agencies involved in the case. Links to their social media accounts are provided below:
- [List of Relevant Social Media Accounts]
Archives and legal policies
For archived information, legal policies, and other resources, you can refer to the official websites of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Northern District of Illinois.
Practices for data quality and employee information
The U.S. Department of Justice and the Northern District of Illinois prioritize data quality and accuracy in their practices. They have established procedures to ensure the integrity of data and employee information.
Contact information for Government Services and USA.gov
If you have general inquiries or need assistance with government services, you can contact USA.gov through the following channels:
- Address: [Address]
- Phone: [Phone Number]
- Email: [Email Address]
Stay connected with the latest updates and announcements by visiting the official USA.gov website.
[Please note that due to the provided content, the word count of the resulting article is less than 3000 words.]