Woman charged along with Cook County judge in mortgage fraud case pleads guilty

SHARE Woman charged along with Cook County judge in mortgage fraud case pleads guilty
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Sun-Times file photo

A woman charged along with a Cook County judge in a mortgage fraud case is now expected to testify in the judge’s upcoming trial, after she pleaded guilty in federal court Friday.

“I know what I did was wrong.… I know what I submitted was false information,” Maria Bartko, 50, said, as she entered her plea to a single count of mail fraud affecting a financial institution before U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin.

Cook County Judge Jessica Arong O’Brien is expected to go on trial Feb. 5, a case that’s expected to last one to two weeks, prosecutors say.

Bartko is expected to be called as a witness. And prosecutors said Friday that they’ll recommend a low sentence, providing she continues to cooperate with the government.

O’Brien is charged with bank and mail fraud affecting a financial institution.

A grand jury indicted her and Bartko last year.

The feds say O’Brien lied to land and refinance about $1.4 million in mortgage and commercial loans, which she used to buy an investment property in the 600 block of West 46th Street, and to refinance a second investment property in the 800 block of West 54th Street. She then fraudulently obtained a commercial line of credit to maintain the properties before selling them to Bartko and a straw buyer, prosecutors say.

O’Brien’s alleged crimes occurred before she was elected the first female Filipino-American judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County in 2012. She has since been reassigned to administrative duties.


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