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Mell Relative, Once at the Center of Blago Family Feud, Charged With Tax Evasion

By Kevin Robinson in News on Aug 31, 2010 2:00PM

Photo by Jason L. Parks.
Frank Schmidt, one-time owner of a Joliet landfill that was at the center of an epic feud between Chicago Ald. Dick Mell and former Governor Rod Blagjoevich, has been charged with federal tax evasion. According to federal authorities, Schmidt has been charged with five counts of tax evasion for failing to pay $2 million in tax on $11 million of income. Schmidt is expected to plead guilty.

In the winter of 2005, then-Governor Blagojevich's administration shut down Schmidt's landfill, charging that he had accepted construction debris without a permit, and accused him of “using his ties to the Blagjoevich family to solicit” business for an illegal-dumping operation. Mell, the longtime 33rd Ward Alderman and the father of Blagojevich's wife Patti, publicly blasted Blago, accusing him of trumping up charges against Schmidt to deflect attention away from the governor's top fund raisers, who Mell accused of trading campaign contributions for state government appointments. Mell accused Blagjoevich of trying to humiliate him as part of a vendetta over a long-standing family feud. Mell retracted his statements after Blagojevich's chief fundraiser Christopher Kelly threatened a defamation suit.

Blagojevich's fundraisers, including Kelly, were eventually convicted of the very actions Mell accused them of. Kelly committed suicide just before he was to begin serving eight years in federal prison on corruption convictions. Blagojevich was eventually tried on more than a dozen corruption charges, resulting in a hung jury and a mistrial. Schmidt sold the landfill in 2008 and dissolved the company, Land Reclamation Services, in 2009.