CHICAGO — The chief of staff for a Chicago alderman has been charged with accepting a bribe, federal officials said Friday.
Curtis V. Thompson, chief of staff for Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), accepted a $7,500 bribe in return for helping secure Brookins' support for a liquor license in his Far South Side ward, the FBI said.
The person who allegedly gave Thompson the bribe was a federal witness assisting the FBI in an undercover corruption probe that began in September 2012. The witness told Thompson he wanted to open a convenience store, the FBI said.
Thompson, 62, of the 4700 block of South Greenwood Avenue in Kenwood, is charged with federal bribery. The criminal complaint does not identify Brookins as the alderman in question, and he has not been charged in connection with the case.
Appearing in federal court in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole Friday, Thompson wore a blue blazer and gray slacks. Following a brief hearing, the judge released Thompson on his own recognizance. His next court date is scheduled from March 6.
The witness and Thompson first met this past October, in a meeting that was recorded, official said. When Thompson told the witness the alderman would prefer a restaurant in the ward — which he said was "heavily laden with liquor" — the witness passed a note to Thompson that read "$7,500 to the Ald. for L.O.S. [letter of support]," according to a federal criminal complaint.
The complaint says Thompson appeared to read the note and said, "OK. I understand. I understand."
He told the witness he would bring the issue up with Brookins, the complaint said.
Thompson and the witness discussed the convenience store with Brookins two more times, the complaint alleges, and in one meeting the witness passed a note to Brookins that said "12K to you for letter of support."
During a subsequent meeting, Brookins allegedly agreed to provide the witness with as many letters of support as the witness needed.
The complaint alleges the witness was solicited to donate to the alderman's holiday toy drive and to co-sponsor his Christmas part, both of which the witness agreed to do.
On Dec. 10, the complaint alleges, the witness went to the alderman's office and received a letter of support for a 7-Eleven store.
After leaving the alderman's Dec. 19 Christmas party, the witness allegedly handed Thompson a red envelope containing a Christmas card and 75 $100 bills.
If convicted, Thompson faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Thompson is also chairman of Brookins' campaign, state records show.
Brookins could not immediately be reached for comment.