The Cook County bribery saga heats up

Developer charged with bribing officials in exchange for tax breaks

Developer Alex Nitchoff and Alderman Carrie M. Austin (Getty, City of Chicago, Facebook/Alex Nitchoff)
Developer Alex Nitchoff and Alderman Carrie M. Austin (Getty, City of Chicago, Facebook/Alex Nitchoff)

The messy scandal involving Cook County employees and a local developer just got more interesting. 

Alex Nitchoff, who along with his family, has been responsible for millions of dollars in Chicago construction projects, has been charged with bribing staff members by providing gits that included sports tickets, jewelry, meals and other items in exchange for lowered property taxes, the Chicago Sun-Times reported

The scheme involves former 34th Ward Alderwoman Carrie Austin and several key workers under her. Last summer, an official in the Cook County assessor’s office, Lavdim “Deme” Memisovski, was charged with corruption for accepting the various bribes offered by Nitchoff. The charges against Memisovski have since caused a chain of events leading to the demise of Austin’s long-standing tenure. 

Memisovski was responsible for appraising commercial properties and reviewing their tax appeals. Memisovski conspired with Nitchoff to ensure that his properties were under appraised, thereby evading a considerable portion of his actual tax bill.

Nitchoff was recorded asking Memisovski if he had any more housing projects that needed work, saying he was “gonna owe ya,” according to the indictment. Nitchoff was also charged on two counts of using a cellphone to facilitate acts of bribery.

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Memisovski has avoided a sentencing and was recommended for probation, as he has cooperated in the investigation since being charged in August. He admitted other Cook County employees were involved in the scheme; and although none of them have been named in the indictment, Nitchoff’s father, Boris Nitchoff, allegedly offered a sump pump and kitchen cabinets for Austin’s Roseland home in an effort to have one of his developments approved.

Austin, 73, officially resigned last month. She said she’s not medically fit to endure a trial and needs oxygen to walk, but prosecutors claim she’s exaggerated her condition. 

—Quinn Donoghue