Lawyer: Ald. Cochran ‘thinking about’ guilty plea, not thinking re-election
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Ald. Willie Cochran is considering whether to take a plea deal nearly two years after federal prosecutors accused him of fraud, extortion and bribery.
But no final decision has been made, according to defense attorney Christopher Grohman. And no hearing has been set before U.S. District Judge Jorge Alonso for Cochran to change his previous plea of not guilty.
“(Cochran) has not yet decided whether or not he will plead guilty,” Grohman told the Chicago Sun-Times. “He has been offered something, and he’s thinking about it.”
The feds accused Cochran in December 2016 of looting a 20th Ward fund meant to help children and senior citizens, using $5,000 to pay his daughter’s college tuition and withdrawing $25,000 from ATMs near his preferred casinos. The former Chicago Police officer was also accused of accepting bribes from businessmen who needed favors from him.
Two months ago, Alonso shot down a bid by Cochran to have the case tossed. Grohman said Cochran is due back in court Sept. 20, when Cochran is expected to tell the judge what he wants to do.
Immediately after the grand jury handed down the 22-page indictment against him, Cochran began to resist calls for him to resign. He told the Sun-Times in a text message that, “you resign when you are guilty.”
“Indictments are not guilty pleas,” Cochran wrote at the time.
A conviction would add Cochran to a list of 35 sitting or past aldermen convicted of crimes since 1973.
The Sun-Times reported last spring that Cochran had told at least three of his City Council colleagues he still planned to seek re-election.
Grohman denied it Wednesday.
“He is not running for re-election,” Grohman said.