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Corrupt ex-Ald. Ambrosio Medrano released from prison over coronavirus concerns

A federal judge once told the thrice-convicted politician he had pulled off an “unprecedented ... corruption trifecta.”

Crooked ex-Ald. Ambrosio Medrano in a file photo from 2014
Jessica Koscielniak / Sun-Times file

Former Chicago Ald. Ambrosio Medrano, convicted three times in corruption scandals, left prison this past week as part of an effort to release inmates who are at-risk of contracting the coronavirus.

Federal Bureau of Prisons records show Medrano has been assigned to a residential re-entry management office in the Chicago area. Gal Pissetzky, the attorney who defended Medrano when he was sentenced in federal court six years ago, said Medrano is in a halfway house.

But for the rest of Medrano’s sentence, Pissetzky said, “he’s going to be on home confinement.” Medrano’s official release date isn’t until Sept. 14, 2025, prison records show.

A Bureau of Prisons spokesman said Medrano made the move Wednesday, transferring to “community confinement” from a federal prison camp in Duluth, Minnesota.

Pissetzky said prison officials identified Medrano, 66, as someone who met the criteria for compassionate release amid the coronavirus pandemic. He said Medrano did not file any paperwork with the Bureau of Prisons seeking the transfer.

Early in 2014, two federal judges presiding over separate cases handed Medrano a total of 13 years in prison over corrupt deals involving bribes and kickbacks.

Having already been handed a 2 ½-year sentence in the 1990s for accepting bribes on the Chicago City Council, a federal judge told Medrano he had pulled off an “unprecedented ... corruption trifecta.”

Former Cook County Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno, a co-defendant in one of Medrano’s cases, is also seeking compassionate release due to the coronavirus. Moreno is not due to be released from prison until January 2024.

Ex-Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett won early release from prison because of the coronavirus last week, moving from a prison in West Virginia to home confinement in Ohio. Her sentence does not officially end until June 2021.