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Former Illinois DOC Director, Former Prisoner Advocate, Others Indicted on Federal Corruption Charges

The former Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC) was indicted by a federal grand jury in July 2007 on charges of taking $50,000 in kickbacks from health care vendors that received state prison contracts. Two lobbyists, one the former Undersheriff of Cook County, were also indicted, as well as a former director of the John Howard Society, an organization that advocates for prison reform.

The criminal charges resulted from a probe into the activities of former Governor George Ryan, 73, who in 2007 began serving a 6½ year federal prison sentence for racketeering and fraud.

Donald N. Snyder, Jr., 52, was the Director of the Illinois DOC from 1999 to 2003. John J. Robinson, 59, had been Cook County's Undersheriff from 1991 to 2001, and worked between 1996 and 2003 as a paid consultant and lobbyist for various DOC vendors. Larry E. Sims, 58, was employed as a lobbyist for several state vendors, including Addus HealthCare, which received over $250 million in DOC medical services contracts since 2003.

Snyder and Robinson were each charged with five counts of mail fraud, while Sims was charged with perjury for having lied to the federal grand jury. Sims admitted he had given a Green Bay Packers sweat shirt to Snyder, but denied that any money had changed hands. The indictment against Snyder also sought the return of $50,000 that he allegedly received in bribes. Snyder previously had been forced to return thousands of dollars for his improper use of a state plane and car to attend political fundraising events.

Specifically, the federal indictment charged that Robinson had bribed Snyder with $20,000 for the Addus contracts, and that Sims had given Snyder $30,000 in kickbacks for obtaining contracts for Wexford Health Sources, a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania based health care firm. Robinson, who was Undersheriff to Sheriff Michael Sheehan from 1991 to 2000, had resigned his position while under a grand jury probe into allegations that he used his position to aid a Virgin Islands firm that was running an investment scam. Robinson was still in his Undersheriff position at the time he was allegedly passing money to Snyder.

The federal charges are still pending against Snyder, who was released on a $4,500 bond. Robinson and Sims both entered into plea agreements in August 2007, just over a month after they were indicted, and are expected to provide testimony against Snyder at trial.

On Oct. 4, 2007, a superseding indictment also named Michael J. Mahoney, former executive director of the John Howard Association, a prison watchdog and advocacy group. According to federal prosecutors, at the same time he was employed at the John Howard Society, Mahoney worked as a paid consultant and lobbyist for various businesses that contracted with the DOC. A former court-appointed monitor over the Cook County Jail, Mahoney allegedly was involved in the bribery scheme with Robinson related to Addus HealthCare.

"I'm always sorry when somebody who has worked so hard for so many years on issues involving reform of correctional facilities has a personal setback like this," remarked Benjamin Wolf, an ACLU attorney, in reference to Mahoney's indictment.

Sources: Chicago Tribune, Associated Press,,

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