3 months in prison for Pennsylvania businessman caught up in Dorothy Brown probe

Donald Donagher Jr. pleaded guilty in October to one count alleging he made payments designed to reward Brown when she was Cook County Circuit Court clerk.

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Dorothy Brown, former Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County

Dorothy Brown, former Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

The ex-CEO of a Pennsylvania debt-collection company was sentenced Friday to three months in federal prison after making payments meant to reward then-Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown for business he thought she steered his way, authorities said.

Donald Donagher Jr. pleaded guilty in federal court in October to one count alleging he paid $869 in March 2014 to a Morton Grove trophy company that provided plaques for Brown’s Women’s History Month program. He also admitted he had $1,000 paid to a company that catered the event.

Donagher did so to illegally reward Brown, according to his plea agreement. His company, Penn Credit Corp., was one of two vendors that had a contract to perform debt-collection work for the county, and he thought Brown had given the two companies equal work.

After agreeing to cover the expenses, Donagher forwarded an email from a member of Brown’s staff to employees and lobbyists and wrote, “Can you guys go to this on our behalf? We are sponsoring the entire thing.” He also wrote that he told Brown’s staff member that “we are fans” of Brown.

He added, “we gotta stay ahead” of the competing vendor.

Donagher must also pay a $30,000 fine. His sentencing hearing took place before U.S. District Judge John Lee.

Penn Credit entered into a separate two-year deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office. In doing so, it agreed to pay a $225,000 fine.

The feds have made no secret that they once targeted Brown in a yearslong corruption probe. But Brown was never charged and denies wrongdoing. She left office in 2020.

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