Chicago Developer Convicted of Bribery

March 19, 2010

A Chicago real estate developer has been found guilty of bribing an alderman to get a zoning change for his West Side development project.

Calvin Boender

Calvin Boender, 55, was convicted by a federal jury Thursday on all five counts of bribery and obstruction of justice after he provided close to $38,000 worth of improvements to the home of former Alderman Isaac “Ike” Carothers in 2004 in exchange for a zoning change to his Galewood Yards project.

The 50-acre property, an abandoned rail yard at 1900 N. Central Ave., was the largest undeveloped tract of land in the city and had been zoned for industrial use. City planners had wanted the area to remain a manufacturing district for future jobs.

Boender developed the site to include residential and retail units as well as apartments, a movie theater and a union training facility. Approximately $6 million more was made on the property due to the zoning changes; Boender personally pocketed about $3 million.

One piece of evidence was a fake invoice Boender created to show Carothers had been billed for the home improvement work, which included painting, new doors, windows and air conditioning.

The developer was also charged with providing Carothers with free meals and tickets to sporting events, including a Chicago White Sox playoff game.

Boender pleaded guilty in the case and resigned from the City Council.

Last month, Carothers pleaded guilty to corruption charges and resigned as 29th Ward Alderman.

Mayor Daley had reportedly opposed the zoning change and was questioned about the case by federal authorities two years ago. Defense attorneys chose not to seek Carothers’ or Daley’s testimony during the trial and Boender never took the stand.

Boender is free on $500,000 bail and will be placed on electronic monitoring. He could face 32 years in prison, though he will likely serve much less under federal sentencing guidelines.

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