By Bob Negele
Joseph Mario Moreno, former Cook County commissioner, is reportedly in plea talks with federal prosecutors after being charged with bribery.
According to the report, Moreno was quoted as saying, “I don’t want to be a hog, I just want to be a pig,” while being secretly tape recorded. “Hogs get slaughtered, pigs get fat.”
The conversations allegedly took place between Moreno and an unnamed acquaintance of his who was cooperating with the federal investigation.
Moreno, 58, had an affluent reputation in Cook County (the county that Chicago is located in). The article describes Moreno as known for his expensive suits and the fact that he used to be the commodore of the Diversey Yacht Club.
Moreno is accused of working with former Chicago Alderman Ambrosio Medrano to procure kickbacks from medical supplies. Apparently the two had been promised cash for every bandage that Cook County purchased from Chasing Lions, a medical products distributor.
Medrano is reluctant to engage in plea negotiations until his other corruption case is resolved. In the other case, a “prescription drug scam case involving out of state hospitals goes before considering any possible deal, his attorney Gal Pissetzky said Monday. That trial is set for February, and Medrano is ‘absolutely looking forward’ to it, Pissetzky said.”
There is also a corruption case kicking around between these two. Moreno is accused of accepting an envelope filled with cash “to back the development of a new waste-transfer station in Cicero while he sat on the town’s economic development panel.”
While the status of this last case is still early on, ABC Chicago is reporting that a plea deal between Moreno and prosecutors for the bandage case is a near certainty. Moreno’s attorney, Richard Kling, told U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman that he doesn’t expect his client, Moreno, to go to trial in the case.
In contrast, Medrano’s attorney, Gal Pissetzk, says that his client intends to go to trial.
The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Moreno’s potential separate charges, for the envelope filled with cash, involved $5,000 in the envelope and that he “extorted a company to hire a minority subcontractor with whom Moreno had financial ties.”
Chicago has always had a reputation for corruption in politics, and if the charges against Moreno and Medrano result in convictions, they will become another sad addition to the line of corruption. While it is common to have aldermen (and women) convicted of corruption, it is not often that such a fitting quote comes from the proceeding.
Rod Blagojevich was known for some of his quotes during the widely publicized trial, but Moreno’s, “I don’t want to be a hog; I just want to be a pig… Hogs get slaughtered; pigs get fed,” may well top any of those.