Current and former employees outlined more details of a wide-ranging job–and promotion–selling scheme in Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown’s office, according to recent filings in a federal criminal case against one of Brown’s deputies.
Brown “personally hired” each of the 2,300 employees under her command, and collected payments of $10,000 per job through campaign contributions, business loans and even a free trip to India, according to affidavits in an investigation of former Brown deputy Beena Patel.
Patel, last year, was indicted for lying to federal grand jury in a years-long FBI probe of Brown’s office.
The new details of the allegations of job-buying under Brown surfaced in a court order from U.S. District Judge Sara Ellis, who repeatedly referenced evidence cited by FBI agents in a 38-page affidavit used to get a search warrant to access Patel’s cellphone.
Patel’s lawyers were trying to get Ellis to toss evidence obtained from the warrant, and also wanted access to grand jury testimony from other witnesses.
One employee, identified in the affidavit as “Individual A,” told investigators she quit after learning she was expected to make campaign contributions in order to keep her job at the court clerk’s office, and then a co-worker identified as “Employee 1” collected cash that Brown would pick up from his home.
Brown’s lawyer, Vadim Glozman, said he had not seen the affidavit and said the allegations that Brown was accepting payoffs for jobs were false.
Brown has not been charged with any crime.
“Mrs. Brown is an honorable public servant and has been for decades,” he said. “These allegations could be from former, disgruntled employees…or employees who were given the opportunity to say something about someone other than themselves to save themselves. You have to take all of these allegations with a grain of salt.”
The affidavit apparently also references by name Sivasubramani Rajaram, a former court clerk’s office employee who last year pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about a $10,000 loan he made to a goat meat company, Goat Masters, owned by Brown and her husband. Rajaram admitted the money was really a bribe. Brown’s lawyers have said the money and another loan from Rajaram were legitimate business investments.
The affidavit also mentions a land deal involving Patel’s now-deceased relative, Narendra Patel, who deeded a North Lawndale building to Brown for $1, and which Brown later sold for $100,000.
Brown has denied all allegations of wrongdoing and successfully ran for a fifth term as court clerk in 2016, despite losing backing from the county Democratic Party as the federal investigation of her office became known.
Brown in April announced she was launching a bid for mayor of Chicago.