Assessor’s office employee pleads not guilty to federal fraud charges alleging he took sports tickets and home improvements to change assessments

Chicago Tribune/TNS
·2 min read

An employee of the Cook County assessor’s office pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a federal charge alleging he conspired to accept gifts in exchange for reductions in assessments for commercial properties.

Lavdim Memisovski, 43, was charged in a criminal information filed in U.S. District Court last week with accepting “home improvement materials, home improvement services, jewelry, meals, sporting event tickets” and other items in exchange for the reductions.

Memisovski entered his plea in a telephone arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheila Finnegan.

Defendants charged by way of information, rather than by grand jury indictment, typically intend to plead guilty. Memisovski’s attorney, Chris Gair, declined to comment on the case.

According to the charge, Memisovski allegedly conspired with two unnamed people between 2016 and July 2018 to accept the rewards for altering his work.

In one instance, according to prosecutors, Memisovski had sprinklers installed in his home as part of the scheme. Prosecutors said they were seeking the forfeiture of at least $20,000 from Memisovski.

At the time of the alleged fraud, the assessor’s office was led by Joseph Berrios, the then-boss of the Cook County Democratic Party. Berrios lost his bid for a third term as assessor in the 2018 Democratic primary to Fritz Kaegi, who promised to reform the office that has long been seen as a den of clout and patronage.

After the charges against Memisovski were announced last week, a spokesman for Kaegi said the office now has a strict ethics code for all employees “which forbids the use of the assessor’s office for personal gain.”

“The leadership of the assessor’s office has upheld and continues to uphold the highest ethical standards for all employees,” the spokesman said in an emailed statement. “Though this person remained an employee of the office, the events mentioned in the charging document occurred during the prior administration and do not reference any activity during this administration. The assessor was not aware these charges were being considered.”

Memisovski joined the assessor’s office in 2005 and was earning about $127,000 a year, according to public records. He is free on a recognizance bond.

jmeisner@chicagotribune.com