Chicago, Chicago
July 27, 2009, 03:31 AM
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Patrick Fitzgerald has a fun job. The chief federal prosecutor in Chicago enjoys a "target-rich environment." Besides nailing two Illinois governors, Tony Rezko, Conrad Black (and even Scooter Libby on a sojourn in D.C.), there are the colorful local characters. Here's a 2001 story that caught my eye for no particular reason:
Former chief of detectives admits masterminding jewel theft ring William Hanhardt agrees to pay $4.8 million in restitution, faces up to 12 years in prison.

By The Associated Press CHICAGO — Wearing the bright orange jumpsuit of a federal prisoner, the Chicago Police Department's former chief of detectives pleaded guilty Thursday to masterminding $5 million in jewelry thefts.

William Hanhardt, 72, admitted to capping a 33-year career as one of the city's boldest crime-busting detectives by leading a band of thieves who pulled eight heists in seven states over more than a decade.

Hanhardt agreed to pay $4,845,000 in restitution for stolen jewelry, gems and watches and faces as much as a dozen years in prison.

"It's remarkable that a person who was chief of detectives of the Chicago Police Department admits to being part of a racketeering conspiracy," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said afterward. ...

Prosecutors had said previously that Hanhardt, although retired from the force, had been able to make use of police computers to get information about such matters as car rentals by jewelry salesmen. Many of the thefts were from automobiles parked by unsuspecting salesmen. ...

Law enforcement officials say the first of the heists took place in Wisconsin in 1984, two years before Hanhardt retired from the force.

"It's our evidence that for decades Bill Hanhardt has been a corrupt policeman," said Gary Shapiro, former chief of the federal organized crime strike force and now first assistant U.S. attorney. ...

Prosecutors said the gang's operations were among the most sophisticated they have ever encountered, with smoke grenades, fake beards and mustaches, listening devices and other high-tech paraphernalia.

A Chicago reader asserts:
Hanhardt the ex Chief of Detectives, Chi, was also noted for his uncanny ability to find criminals and solve crimes. Became the Chief of Detectives because of that.

His uncanny ability was because he was in cahoots with the Chi mafia from the start. The Outfit would throw little fish to him and maybe big fish from time to time so Hanhardt would establish credentials as the go to man to solve crimes. The mafia gave away their own folks or those associated with them so Hanhardt would rise in the ranks.

So, who will Fitzgerald round out his career with? Mayor Daley really wants the 2016 Olympics for Chicago, so cornering Daley would be a fun international incident.

That reminds me ... Now that Obama wants to put himself in charge of the health care industry, it's interesting to reflect on his experience with healthcare finance.

The Obama family knows all about waste in the health care industry. Back when Mr. Obama was merely the chairman of the Illinois Senate Health and Human Services committee, Mrs. Obama got paid $122,000 annually as the University of Chicago Hospitals community outrage coordinator. When he got promoted to U.S. Senator, she got a $195,000 raise. When she quit, her job turned out to so incredibly important that the position she filled was eliminated.

Part of Obama's vast range of health care finance experience comes from an important health bill, Senate Bill 1332, the "Illinois Health Facilities Planning Act," that Obama, as committee chairman, recommended to the Illinois Senate floor for passage in 2003.

Tony Rezko is in prison in large part for packing the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board with five of his lackeys so they would approve hospital construction in which he had an interest. That Board used to have 15 members, making it hard for Rezko to corrupt the majority, but in 2003, a bill passed the Illinois legislature reducing the number of members from 15 to 9. And who was the chairman of the Illinois Senate Health and Human Services committee that recommended that bill? Why, Rezko's $250,000 friend, Barack Obama.

As far as I can tell, Rezko is still in jail awaiting sentencing for his conviction on 16 counts of corruption in Fitzgerald's 2008 prosecution of him. He was supposed to be sentenced last January 6th, but, if that ever happened, nobody told Google.

Even more strikingly, the press seems to have lost all interest in the fact that a convicted racketeer who is a fairly close friend and business associate of the President of the United States remains unsentenced, and thus has an incentive to spills the beans to the nation's bravest prosecutor about important friends of his.

Could never ever happen, you say? Certainly, but keep in mind that in 1973, the Vice President of the United States resigned over local statehouse corruption in his past.