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Willie Cochran’s guilty plea seals his name on Chicago’s ‘aldercrook’ timeline

A collection of noted Chicago aldermen with criminal missteps in their histories.

Ald. Willie Cochran’s plea on Thursday adds him to the crowd of Chicago aldermen who’ve been found guilty of a crime — extortion, embezzlement, tax evasion and bribery among them.

Cochran became the 35th name on Chicago’s list of “aldercrooks” when he pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud for siphoning money from a ward fund meant for charity and spending it on personal expenses. The list dates back to the early 1970s.

Cochran is also now the third guilty alderman from the 20th Ward; his predecessors Arenda Troutman and Cliff Kelley are also on the list. That ties the 20th Ward’s record of convicted aldermen with the 23rd and 31st wards.

Cochran’s 15-count indictment in 2016 included bribery and wire fraud. Federal authorities accused him of stealing from 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 casinos.


Ald. Willie Cochran pleads guilty to wire fraud in corruption case
Ald. Cochran’s ‘off the books’ fund exposes deeper problem
Ald. Cochran charged with looting fund meant for kids, seniors

Dating back to 1973, here’s Chicago’s Aldermanic Hall of Shame — the officials who have given the Windy City the unflattering reputation of being politically corrupt.

Some on this list appear for crimes that occurred after their time in City Council, including James Laski, Ed Vrdolyak and William Beavers.