Ex-Dorothy Brown worker pleads guilty to lying to grand jury

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Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown | Brian Jackson/For the Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County’s embattled circuit court clerk may have won the Democratic primary last month, but her trouble at the federal courthouse continued to haunt her Wednesday.

Former clerk employee Sivasubramani Rajaram, 48, pleaded guilty to perjury Wednesday morning, admitting he lied on Oct. 1 to a federal grand jury that had been investigating the purchasing of jobs and promotions within Dorothy Brown’s office.

His plea agreement does not indicate he is cooperating with federal investigators. He faces a likely prison sentence of between 10 and 16 months behind bars, and his sentencing was set for Sept. 14. A spokeswoman for Brown’s office could not be reached for comment.

Rajaram’s indictment was announced four weeks after Cook County Democratic Party leaders withdrew their endorsement of Brown for the March 15 primary. They instead threw their support to a newly declared candidate, Ald. Michelle Harris (8th), a strong supporter of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Still, Brown won the primary handily, even when Rajaram first indicated — on Election Day — that he planned to plead guilty.

Rajaram’s 13-page plea agreement clearly references Brown and her husband, Benton Cook III —even though it doesn’t mention either by name. Neither has been accused of criminal wrongdoing, but in October the FBI seized Brown’s county-issued cellphone as a part of the investigation.

Records show Rajaram had worked in the circuit clerk’s office for more than a decade, leaving in 2011. He lived in India before moving back to the Chicago area in August 2014, according to his plea agreement. He also loaned $15,000 to Goat Masters Corporation, and Cook was the president of that company.

Rajaram was rehired to the clerk’s office with an annual salary of $30,678 on Sept. 8, 2014, records show. He got a promotion in late June, helping bring his salary to $41,151.

He admitted on Wednesday he lied twice under oath when testifying before the grand jury. He testified that he hadn’t spoken with Brown since his rehiring. And he testified that he’d spoken with a person identified as “Individual B,” a high-ranking employee in Brown’s office, “maybe like three or four times” since moving back from India — but not by phone.

Rajaram had, in fact, spoken with Brown, according to his plea agreement. And he had spoken to “Individual B” by cellphone “dozens of times.”

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