FBI — Former Cook County Commissioner, Former Chicago Alderman and Five Businessmen Charged in Three Alleged Bribery Schemes
Federal corruption charges were unveiled today in three separate bribery complaints. Two former local public officials, former Cook County Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno and former Chicago Ald. Ambrosio Medrano, each were charged in two of the three complaints. Three businessmen who allegedly participated in one bribery scheme, and two other businessmen who allegedly participated in another, also were charged.
The three alleged schemes involved:
an alleged effort by Moreno, Medrano, and three Chicago area businessmen to use bribery and kickbacks to sell bandages to public hospitals, including Cook County’s John H. Stroger Hospital;
an alleged effort by Medrano and two other businessmen, including James Barta, the owner of a Nebraska-based provider of prescription drug services that claims 11 million subscribers, to use bribery and kickbacks to obtain business from an unnamed out-of-state hospital system; and
Moreno’s alleged acceptance of $5,000 as part of a bribe to ensure development of a waste transfer station in suburban Cicero while he sat on a town economic development panel.
“Public officials who solicit and obtain bribes, and private individuals who pay bribes, undermine trust in honest government. The defendants in these cases are alleged to have done just that,” said Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.
Moreno, a Cook County commissioner for 16 years until 2010, and Medrano, the former alderman who later worked on Moreno’s county staff, allegedly agreed to receive kickbacks for using their influence as county officials to cause Stroger Hospital to purchase bandages under the brand name “Dermafill” from co-defendants Stanley Wozniak and Gerald W. Lombardi, who were agents of Chasing Lions, LLC, a disabled veterans-owned business in west suburban Lisle. The alleged scheme started in 2010 while Moreno was still a county commissioner and before he sponsored a county ordinance to benefit disabled veterans-owned businesses, such as Chasing Lions. In early 2011, while the alleged Cook County scheme was still underway, the FBI introduced an undercover agent, who was posing as a third-party purchasing agent for the hospital system of County A, located in another state, to Medrano, Gerald W. Lombardi, and his son, Jerry A. Lombardi, who was also a Chasing Lions agent, as part of an alleged scheme by those three to provide kickbacks to a fictitious official of the County A hospital system in exchange for Dermafill orders placed by the undercover agent. After allegedly paying a kickback in connection with that scheme, Medrano introduced the undercover agent to Barta, the president and owner of Sav-Rx, and Gustavo Buenrostro, an associate of Barta and a former Sav-Rx employee. Barta, Buenrostro, and Medrano then allegedly agreed to bribe the undercover agent and fictitious County A hospital official—with Barta allegedly making a $6,500 payment to the undercover agent last week— to do business with Sav-Rx, a Fremont, Neb.-based national provider of managed care prescription medication services.
Moreno, also known as “Mario Moreno,” 59, of Chicago, and Medrano, 58, of Chicago, were charged together in one criminal complaint along with Wozniak, 49, of Chicago; Gerald W. Lombardi, also known as “Jerry Lombardi, Sr.,” 59, of Darien; and Jerry A. Lombardi, also known as “Jerry Lombardi, Jr.,” 33, of Downers Grove. Medrano was charged in a second criminal complaint together with Barta, 70, of Fremont, Neb., and Buenrostro, 49, of Arlington Heights.
Moreno alone was charged in a third complaint charging the Cicero waste transfer station bribery.
Medrano, Wozniak, both Lombardis, and Buenrostro were arrested today and, together with Moreno, appeared this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Young Kim in Federal Court in Chicago. An arrest warrant was issued for Barta.
Mr. Fitzgerald announced the arrests and charges with Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Thomas Jankowski, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. The FBI’s Chicago City Public Corruption Task Force led the investigation with assistance from the Chicago Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division, a task force member.