Ex-con developer who bought Elgin hospital in line for big payday

John Thomas — who helped take down Rod Blagojevich — paid $1M for the former Sherman Hospital, and now could make at least $3M thanks to lease with state

Chicago /
May.May 19, 2020 05:00 PM
Twice-convicted felon John Thomas and the former Sherman Hospital in Elgin (Credit: Google Maps)

Twice-convicted felon John Thomas and the former Sherman Hospital in Elgin (Credit: Google Maps)

A two-time convicted felon who helped the Justice Department take down former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Tony Rezko is back doing real estate deals, this time connected to the state’s coronavirus response.

An entity connected to John Thomas bought the former Sherman Hospital in Elgin in 2019 for about $1 million, and could soon receive a big windfall through a pending lease deal with the state.

According to the Sun-Times, court documents in Kane County show that Thomas’ Freedom Development Group would accept $3 million for a one-year lease plus “substantial escalations” in the following years, plus a $1 million security deposit and six months of rent paid upfront. A court must determine how much the state should pay Thomas’ group to lease the facility.

Through the emergency powers act, the state could potentially house 283 people who tested positive for coronavirus at the Elgin facility, but currently does not house any, a spokesperson told the Sun-Times.

Thomas was convicted of a billboard leasing scam in New York in 2004 and then again in 2015 after he was convicted of stealing $370,000 from the town of Riverdale to redevelop its marina.

Since his release in 2017, Thomas has been active in real estate. According to the paper, he’s opening several Jet Foods grocery stores in Park Forest and Rockford, with negotiations taking place in Naperville, Harvey, Olympia Fields and Des Plaines. [Sun-Times] James Kleimann


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