Ex-Markham mayor indicted by federal grand jury in alleged bribery scheme

A federal grand jury has indicted former Markham Mayor David Webb, accusing him of taking part in a $300,000 bribery scheme involving city contractors, including one who built his eponymously named senior center in the village.

The bribes included payments through shell companies, campaign contributions, a $75,000 check and even small cash sums hidden in coffee cups, according to court filings. The indictment alleges one contractor, Tower Contracting, fabricated a check request describing a $10,000 bribe as a "2013 Festival Donation" and as "Tower giving back to the community," court records show

The bribery scheme is detailed in a 25-page indictment issued Thursday, charging Webb, Tower Contracting and its president, Michael Jarigese, and Alsterda Cartage and Construction owner Thomas Summers for their roles in a scheme to defraud the poor south suburban community.

On Friday, the Securities and Exchange Commission also alleged that Webb, 69, engaged in a pay-to-play scheme by soliciting and receiving a $75,000 bribe from a construction contractor. Webb agreed to partially settle fraud charges related to a $5.5 million municipal bond offering by Markham in 2012, the SEC said.

In October, a complaint brought by prosecutors charged Jarigese with giving Webb bribes in a complaint that did not name the former mayor but where sources confirmed his identity. Webb's attorney and Summers did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Jarigese's attorney, Ken Cunniff, in a statement said his client is "an innocent man."

"He never bribed Mayor Webb or anyone else," Cunniff said. "The charges in the indictment are erroneous."

In 2001, voters elected Webb to lead the small suburb. He declined to run for re-election this spring amid a federal investigation. Front-page stories in the Chicago Tribune and Daily Southtown have detailed questionable conduct by city officials, including Webb, and documented at least $72 million paid to the mayor's campaign contributors by the city.

Webb never needed more than 1,700 votes to win election in Markham, but was nevertheless one of the most prolific local political fundraisers in the state, taking in more than $1 million in contributions since 2000, records show.

Tower and Alsterda made millions from Markham, records show. Between May 2009 and April 2015, records show, the city paid Tower more than $15 million. Since 2008, Markham paid out at least $3.7 million to Alsterda, records show.

Between January 2010 and June 2012, Tower received contracts from Markham to build what would become the David Webb Jr. Senior Living Facility and a contract for work on the Markham Public Works garage building, records show.

During that time, the company also received a contract for renovations and additions at Roesner Park worth at least $3.4 million, the indictment charged.

Alsterda worked as a subcontractor on some Tower projects, including the Webb senior center and the Roesner Park development project, the indictment charged.

Beginning in 2008 and continuing until around April 2017, when Webb left office, Jarigese, Alsterda and others agreed to make and conceal bribe payments totaling more than $300,000, the indictment said.

Summers and Alsterda issued at least seven checks to Webb totaling approximately $174,000, between 2008 and 2013, the indictment said.

An FBI agent's affidavit attached to the complaint in October against Jarigese further detailed the scheme.

It said Webb asked Jarigese for $100,000 after noting his company had already done substantial work for the city.

Jarigese said he would look into it and get back to Webb, and when the two met again later, Jarigese gave the mayor a check for $75,000 made out to a shell company, according to court records.

Jarigese later gave Webb a check for $10,000 made out to the shell company, according to court records.

At other times, court records show, Jarigese would visit Webb in his office with small cash payments hidden in a coffee cup that he would hand over.

Webb told prosecutors that construction projects were assigned to contractors in a number of ways, including the design build process, according to court records.

On those projects, a public bidding process is not needed, and the mayor "could better steer work to a particular contractor when a project did not involve the public bidding process," court records show.

Prosecutors said two shell companies tied to Webb's relatives were used to obscure the bribes. In the complaint this week, prosecutors identified the shell companies as KAT Remodeling, incorporated in 2003, and KAT Realty Investments, incorporated in 2009.

KAT Remodeling was incorporated with Andre Webb, the mayor's son, as its agent. He has not been charged with any crime.

KAT Realty was incorporated by Joseph Letke, a former municipal accountant who was involved with questionable deals, including in Markham, according to state records.

A 2013 Chicago Tribune investigation spotlighted a roller rink purchase by Markham. The city paid $1.7 million for the rink — more than three times what the property was worth based on a previous appraisal — according to the Tribune. The seller was a company led by the city attorney.

The city and Webb's campaign fund also have been linked to Adrianna's, a controversial nightclub and banquet hall.

Webb spent at least $127,000 in campaign funds at Adrianna's banquet hall, which shares a name and building with the nightclub. At least eight people were shot at the club or in its parking lot, two fatally, between Christmas Eve 2010 and July 2016. The club was renamed in summer 2016 and then shut down later that year after another violent incident. The city also gave the property's developer at least $904,868 in tax breaks and spent nearly $40,000 at Adrianna's banquet hall, Markham records show.

Webb's campaign has been fined by the state for failing to file required paperwork by the deadline and once for accepting a campaign contribution over the legal limit, state records show. In 2011 and 2012, the campaign received $12,500 in contributions from Tower Contracting, or $2,500 over the legal limit for one election cycle.

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