Goat meat, jeans day and a free building: 5 controversies that engulfed Dorothy Brown’s office

Dorothy Brown

Dorothy Brown | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The embattled public servant announced Wednesday she would not seek re-election.

During her nearly 20 years in office as the city’s circuit court clerk, Dorothy Brown has been no stranger to controversy.

As the embattled public servant announced Wednesday she would not seek re-election — amid a federal investigation into her campaign and a growing slew of challengers — here’s a look at some of the scandals that have plagued her office:

Top aides found guilty of lying in pay-to-play scheme investigation

Beena Patel, a top aide to Brown, was found guilty in April by a federal jury of lying to a grand jury investigating allegations of job selling in Brown’s office. Defense attorneys maintained Patel was a “scapegoat” in the investigation, which had not resulted in charges against Brown. Patel’s attorney, Walter Jones Jr., told jurors in his closing argument that the “mighty government juggernaut” failed to land the “big tuna” in Brown’s office and that they attempted to save face after the six-year investigation by charging Patel.

In February 2017, another Brown aide, Sivasubramani Rajaram, was found guilty by a federal judge, also of lying to a grand jury. The feds said he lied twice to the FBI and bought his job in Brown’s office with a $15,000 “loan” to a goat meat company — Goat Masters — that is tied to Brown and her husband.

Allegations that $10K could buy a job in Brown’s office

Brown faced tough questions, but no charges, after it was revealed in February last year that a former employee told federal investigators the going rate for a job in Brown’s office was $10,000. According to federal documents, employees in Brown’s office also had the general impression that “financial benefits to the clerk could result in securing promotions.”

A Sun-Times investigation published the following month found that 15 workers got promotions within six months after they and their families made a total of more than 50 campaign contributions to Brown.

Getting green to wear blue jeans

Word that Brown had a practice in her office of charging employees for the right to wear blue jeans at work caused a stir when it was reported that employees could pay between $2 and $10 to do so.

But a 2010 investigation by the county’s watchdog agency found no wrongdoing after a review of available records found that 93% of the funds raised went to charitable causes.

Brown claimed vindication, even as she previously scrapped the program.

But Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard also found that some of the same accounts the funds were held in were used to purchase Bulls tickets, Great America tickets and for employee parking expenses, which created the possibility of commingling funds.

“The evidence reviewed failed to support the existence of fraud, embezzlement, theft, or misuse of funds in relation to the Jeans Day collections process,” according to the report. “The evidence however did reveal an internal control weakness in the Jeans Day …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times


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