CHICAGO (AP) — A former Chicago alderman has been sentenced to 13 months in prison after pleading guilty to spending cash from a political fund on vacations, jewelry and other personal expenses.
Before he sentenced Ricardo Munoz on Thursday, U.S. District Judge John Kness told the former six-term 22nd Ward alderman that if he allowed him to avoid prison, the community “would draw the wrong message, and a negative message.”
“People need to get the message that public figures are held to a higher standard. And if you didn’t want to be held to a higher standard, you shouldn’t run six times for alderman,” Kness added.
Munoz pleaded guilty in September to wire fraud and money laundering, admitting to stealing nearly $38,000 from the Progressive Reform Caucus, for which he served as chairman and performed the duties of its treasurer. He used the money for personal expenses, including a family member’s college tuition, jewelry, clothing, and vacations.
Prosecutors filed a motion in December asking that Munoz serve a one-year prison sentence.
A lawyer for Munoz, Richard Kling, noted in court that Munoz had paid back all but $6,891 of the stolen funds, which the judge ordered him to pay in restitution.
Munoz, who announced his retirement from the City Council in 2018, is the latest in a long line of Chicago City Council members convicted of federal crimes.
Patrick Daley Thompson, a grandson and nephew of Chicago’s two longest-serving mayors, was convicted by a federal jury last month of tax crimes and making false statements. The conviction cost Thompson, who is set for sentencing on July 6, his seat on the council.
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Notes & References
“Prosecutors Want 1-Year Sentence for Former Chicago Alderman.” AP NEWS. Associated Press, December 23, 2021. https://apnews.com/article/crime-chicago-a77ba22943f0ee4d63f84c26177383df. ↩︎
Press, Associated. “Jury Convicts ALD. Patrick Daley Thompson of Tax Crimes and Fraudulent Statements.” Chicago Journal. Chicago Journal, February 15, 2022. https://www.chicagojournal.com/jury-convicts-ald-patrick-daley-thompson-of-tax-crimes-and-fraudulent-statements/. ↩︎