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A Worth Township trustee with political links to top Democrats pleaded guilty Monday to a federal tax charge and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in their ongoing political corruption investigation.
Richard Lewandowski, 61, of Palos Heights, pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with one misdemeanor count of failing to file an income tax return in 2018.
In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Lewandowski admitted he did not file an income tax return in either 2017 or 2018, despite earning more than nearly $600,000 in those two years. In all, he cheated the state and federal government out of about $62,000 in revenue, the plea agreement said.
Asked by the judge to say what he did in his own words, Lewandowski, who appeared via a video link, replied, “I, uh, did not file my taxes on time, and I snowballed from one year to another and ended up really late on the one year I’m being charged with.”
The charge carries up to a year in prison, but prosecutors told U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez that if Lewandowski continues to cooperate in the ongoing investigation they would push for leniency at sentencing.
A status date in the case was set for Aug. 5.
Lewandowski’s plea makes him the latest Democratic political player to cooperate with federal authorities in a corruption investigation that has stretched from Chicago to the southwest suburbs and Springfield.
Lewandowski, who has served as a trustee in Worth Township since 2013, was closely allied with John O’Sullivan. He’s a former state representative and ally of ex-House Speaker Michael Madigan who resigned as Worth Township supervisor last year amid the investigation involving red-light camera company SafeSpeed.
O’Sullivan was subpoenaed by federal prosecutors about the SafeSpeed probe in 2019, shortly after agents raided the offices of then-Democratic state Sen. Martin Sandoval and a host of suburban mayors as part of a sprawling probe. O’Sullivan has not been charged with wrongdoing.
Lewandowski also is the president of Breaker Press, a Pilsen-based printing company that has received millions of dollars for printing services from politicians dating to at least 2011. That includes more than $100,000 from Friends of Michael J. Madigan for the speaker himself and dozens of candidates, ranging from rank-and-file House Democrats to his hand-picked 13th Ward alderman, Marty Quinn.
The Madigan campaign committee had also paid several thousand dollars to Breaker Press on behalf of Sandoval since 2012. Sandoval had represented part of Madigan’s House district since then. Sandoval, who pleaded guilty to corruption and was cooperating with investigators in the sweeping federal case, died last month from COVID-19 complications.
Madigan, a Southwest Side Democrat, lost his position as speaker last month amid an ongoing bribery investigation involving utility giant Commonwealth Edison, which admitted in court documents to doling out jobs and money to win Madigan’s influence in Springfield.
Madigan, who had served in the post since 1983 with the exception of two years in the mid-1990s, has not been charged with wrongdoing and has staunchly defended his record in public statements.