Contractor convicted of paying off then-Markham Mayor David Webb Jr. in cash bribes hidden in coffee cups

A contractor and his Markham company were convicted on all counts by a federal jury Wednesday of paying off the south suburb’s then-mayor with nearly $100,000 in bribes to secure work from the city.

The jury deliberated only for about two hours before convicting Michael Jarigese and his business, Tower Contracting.

The former longtime mayor, David Webb Jr., had pleaded guilty to corruption charges and provided key testimony for the government at the trial in Chicago’s federal court.

In testimony earlier this week, Webb told jurors that Jarigese had passed a number of bribes — including one for $2,500 — in coffee cups filled with cash during meetings in Webb’s City Hall office.

The mayor’s seven hours of testimony over two days marked an unusual twist for a public corruption investigation. Typically it’s the contractors and other bribe payers who cooperate with the government and testify against the politicians who took the money.

Instead, Webb himself cooperated with prosecutors, pleading guilty to “honest services” wire fraud and the filing of a false tax return just weeks after his indictment in December 2017.

As part of his deal with prosecutors, Webb admitted he took a combined $300,000 from Jarigese and other contractors doing business with the city beginning in 2008. Federal guidelines call for Webb to be sentenced to between seven and nine years in prison, but if he testifies truthfully, prosecutors have said they’ll recommend that U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman give him about 4 ½ years behind bars.

Also charged in the alleged bribery scheme was Thomas Summers, owner of Alsterda Cartage and Construction. Summers is scheduled to go to trial later this year. Webb could be called to testify then as well.

According to Webb’s plea agreement, Summers paid a total of $169,015 in cash to Webb and checks to KAT Remodeling, in some cases writing in memo lines on the checks words such as “kitchen,” “office” or “Ford Truck” to make the payments seem legitimate.

Webb was first elected to lead the small suburb of about 12,000 residents in 2001 and declined to run for re-election in April 2017 amid the federal investigation.

Webb never needed more than 1,700 votes to win in Markham but raised more than $1 million in campaign contributions since 2000, making him one of the most prolific local political fundraisers in the state, records show.

msn | May 16, 2019

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