Ex-County Commissioner Moreno ally gets 3 years in prison in bribery scheme

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A federal judge handed a three-year prison sentence Tuesday to a one-time political ally of former Cook County Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno.

Ronald Garcia, 55, pleaded guilty in September 2013 to bribing Moreno in exchange for Moreno’s help strong-arming an out-of-state county contractor into using Garcia’s business as a minority business subcontractor.

The bribe came in the form of the forgiveness of a $100,000 mortgage loan on Moreno’s home, court records show. The county contractor ultimately paid Garcia’s business $460,142, prosecutors have said.

But that only came after Garcia put Moreno on the phone with a representative of the company, and after Moreno told the company he had concerns about its choice for a minority subcontractor.

“Ronald Garcia repeatedly exploited his relationships with former Cook County Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno and other Cook County officials to receive millions of dollars exclusively through Cook County contracts,” prosecutors wrote in court documents.

An attorney for Garcia, who grew up in Little Village, said in court papers he’s led a “remarkable life” considering his “humble beginnings.” They said he’s accepted his guilt and plans to fulfill his sentence.

Moreno himself pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit extortion in 2013. U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feinerman, who sentenced Garcia on Tuesday, sentenced Moreno last year to 11 years in prison.

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