Thursday, March 22, 2007

Chicago Tribune | Another Daley Aide Indicted By Feds


Chicago Tribune Staff Reports
March 22, 2007, 2:39 PM CDT

The U.S. attorney's office announced today that a federal grand jury has indicted former Chicago Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Al Sanchez on nine counts of mail fraud.

Sanchez, 59, was not only a former top aide to Mayor Richard Daley but was also a key leader in the mayor's Hispanic Democratic Organization (HDO).

The charges against Sanchez come amid a continuing investigation of hiring and promotion practices at City Hall.

Also indicted was Aaron DelValle, who once worked for Sanchez in Streets and Sanitation. DelValle, 34, was charged with one count of perjury for allegedly lying to a federal grand jury.

In return for his cooperation with investigators, DelValle received immunity from most of the charges under consideration, but was indicted on one count of perjury, prosecutors said.

Both men will be arraigned at a later date, the U.S. attorney's office said.

U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald said Sanchez rigged jobs to reward political workers and DelValle lied to authorities about assisting Sanchez. Sanchez "corrupted the hiring process on behalf of HDO," Fitzgerald said.

According to the U.S. attorney's office, Sanchez engaged in a systematic scheme to provide city jobs, promotions and other employment benefits as rewards for political campaign work for his organization.

Sanchez was HDO's Southeast Side leader. During the hiring trial last summer that resulted in the conviction of Daley's former patronage chief, prosecutors described Sanchez as a co-schemer in an ongoing hiring fraud scheme.

The son of a hot metal conductor at a steel plant, Sanchez sponsored many of his fellow East Siders for well-paying, blue-collar city jobs, according to court records.

Sanchez used to preside over HDO meetings in a banquet hall in the neighhborhood spanned by the Chicago Skyway toll bridge. Federal agents scoured the neighborhood last fall, questioning people about HDO.

Earlier this month, HDO members who work in Streets and Sanitation charged in a federal lawsuit they were demoted or passed over for promotion because another group now has the clout. Pablo Delapaz, Michael Sarkauskas and Joseph Nasella claim they were punished after Sanchez retired as commissioner of the department in 2005.

HDO members were mentioned at the corruption trial of Daley's patronage chief Robert Sorich as the recipients of city jobs for their political work on behalf of pro-Daley candidates.

The Associated Press contributed.

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