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24th person charged in City Hall bribery probe -Chicago Tribune 1/15/2009

| Tribune reporters

Federal prosecutors have quietly brought charges against a City Hall permit "expediter" who became a government mole at the center of a wide-ranging bribery probe.

Catherine Romasanta wore a wire and acted as a "bagman," carrying bribes from developers and contractors to corrupt building and zoning officials in Mayor Richard Daley's administration, according to court records and sources.

Romasanta was a key undercover operative in the Operation Crooked Code investigation, providing federal agents with information about bribery involving more than 30 people, records show. The probe is a joint operation by federal authorities and city Inspector General David Hoffman's office.

Authorities did not identify Romasanta by name in May when they arrested 15 people, including seven Daley administration officials. Prosecutors said the mole was involved in seven of the eight bribery cases brought at that time and would eventually face criminal charges herself.

Romasanta, 59, the 24th person charged in the probe, made her initial appearance Wednesday in U.S. District Court, pleading not guilty to a single bribery-related count. But her lawyer, Elliott Price, said she likely would eventually plead guilty.

The charges brought last week by U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald's office alleged that Romasanta paid a $6,000 bribe to William Wellhausen, a city zoning inspector.

dmihalopoulos@tribune.com

jcoen@tribune.com

Copyright © 2009, Chicago Tribune

From:     http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-expediterjan15,0,5436132.story

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