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Son of imprisoned ex-alderman blames his firing from city job on ‘witch hunt’

Ambrosio "Ambi" Medrano, Jr. and his father, Ambrosio, Medrano, Sr., at the son's 25th Ward campaign office in 2011. File Photo. | Al Podgorski~Sun-Times

Ambrosio Medrano Jr., the namesake son of a thrice-convicted former alderman, has been fired from his city job for alleged timecard violations.

The younger Medrano, who once ran for alderman himself, said he was terminated last month from his position as a foreman of concrete laborers following an investigation by the city inspector general’s office.

Medrano Jr. denied any wrongdoing and said he is appealing his firing.

His father, former 25th Ward Ald. Ambrosio Medrano, is currently serving time at a federal prison in Duluth following his second and third convictions on corruption charges — an “unprecedented corruption trifecta,” as one federal judge put it.

ANALYSIS

In a telephone interview, the younger Medrano told me he believes he was singled out for punishment by the city because of his name.

“I personally think it’s a witch hunt,” he said.

I’m not so sure about that, but it is fair to observe that his firing probably wouldn’t merit a mention in the newspaper if not for his family history.

And quite a history it is, starting with his father’s election as alderman in 1991.

The elder Medrano was sentenced to prison the first time in 1996 after pleading guilty to taking $31,000 in bribes from a government mole in Operation Silver Shovel.

Later, he tried to get elected again, only to be barred by a state law that prohibits convicted felons from holding public office.

The former alderman was sent back to prison in 2014 following two more convictions in connection with paying bribes to obtain government contracts while he was working as an aide to Cook County Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno.

Former Ald. Ambrosio Medrano Sr. leaves the federal building in Chicago in 2014, after he was sentenced to federal prison for scheming to pay bribes for medical contracts and for receiving kickbacks. (AP Photo/Sun-Times Media, Chandler West)
Former Ald. Ambrosio Medrano Sr. leaves the federal building in Chicago in 2014, after he was sentenced to federal prison for scheming to pay bribes for medical contracts and for receiving kickbacks. (AP Photo/Sun-Times Media, Chandler West)

The senior Medrano is not scheduled to be released from prison until Dec. 10, 2025.

At one of his father’s sentencing hearings in 2014, Medrano Jr. made an impassioned plea for leniency.

“I wouldn’t trade my father for anyone else,” he told U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman. “We all make mistakes, some on a more grand scale than others.”

As far as I can tell, there is no indication the younger Medrano’s alleged mistakes were anywhere near the same scale as his father’s.

Ambrosio “Ambi” Medrano, Jr. and his father, Ambrosio, Medrano, Sr., at the son’s 25th Ward campaign office in 2011. File Photo. | Al Podgorski~Sun-Times
Ambrosio “Ambi” Medrano, Jr. and his father, Ambrosio, Medrano, Sr., at the son’s 25th Ward campaign office in 2011. File Photo. | Al Podgorski~Sun-Times

A spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation said it does not comment on personnel matters.

But by Medrano Jr.’s own account, he was accused of filing an excessive number of “edit sheets”— a timekeeping form that city workers complete when there is a problem clocking in or out of the city’s automated timekeeping system.

Medrano said the inspector general determined he submitted 150 edit sheets between 2015 and 2017, most of which he attributes to his city ID not working. He said there also was an accusation that the approval signatures from his supervisor appeared to have been photocopied.

“They’re not saying I wasn’t at work,” Medrano said.

That point was emphasized by Medrano’s attorney, Frank Avila Jr.

“He stole no city time,” Avila said.

Avila said he plans to file a complaint against the city on Medrano Jr.’s behalf with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission as a prelude to a federal discrimination lawsuit. He argued the city has been more lenient in punishing city employers accused of much worse.

Medrano Jr., who turns 40 on Thursday, ran for his father’s former seat in 2011, but was defeated by Ald. Danny Solis.

Known as “Ambi” to family and friends, the younger Medrano had worked for the city for 21 years. That means he first went on the city payroll shortly after his father went away to prison.

He contends he’s never had so much as a reprimand on his personnel record during all that time, which is why he thinks his firing is unwarranted.

“I could see a reprimand, but a firing? No,” he said.

City officials obviously took a more dim view of the facts before them.