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Stroger Aide Charged With $300,000 Worth of Theft

By Kevin Robinson in News on Oct 6, 2010 2:00PM

2010_9_oglesby.jpg Todd Stroger's (now-former) Deputy Chief of Staff spent the night in Cook County Jail after being arrested and charged with defrauding the county of $300,000 in a scandal involving multiple no-bid contracts awarded at a dollar threshold just low enough to avoid county board approval. Carla Oglesby was held on $250,000 bail after she was arrested Monday afternoon. State's Attorney Anita Alvarez served a warrant issued as part of an investigation by her financial crimes unit.

Oglesby is charged with theft of government property, money laundering and official misconduct, felonies that could land her up to 30 years in prison if convicted. She's accused of using money from fraudulent contracts to pay personal expenses such as rent, and attempting to hide those funds by moving them across accounts. She's also charged with involvement in awarding or approving payments on contracts where no work was performed. Stroger initially suspended Oglesby when the allegations first came to light, but then brought her back on the county's payroll, defending her actions.

Stroger made a brief statement to the press on Tuesday, telling the media that "we're going to work with the State's Attorney, and they're going to do their investigation, and we'll let justice take its course. That's all we can do," Stroger said. "That's really all I can tell you about it, because I don't know anything else, and I'm not going to impede justice by making any statements." Alvarez took a stronger stance in her comments to the media, noting that the alleged misconduct began almost as soon as Oglesby was in office. “Just two weeks after she began her job, Oglesby is alleged to have engaged in a scheme to defraud the taxpayers of Cook County,’’ Alvarez said. “Today’s charges allege that Carla Oglesby rigged a series of sham, no-bid contracts with companies that were allegedly being hired to perform communications work for Cook County government.’’

Oglesby worked briefly as Todd Stroger's spokeswoman during his failed re-election bid, and she was put on the county payroll shortly after the primary election. Stroger accepted Oglesby's resignation Tuesday, but blamed "the process" for the problem, saying that contracts under $25,000 "are not an unusual process" and that over the remaining two months of his term in office, he will "work diligently with the independent inspector general to make the corrections needed in this process."