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Trial date set after Alderman Willie Cochran rejects plea deal in Bribery, Fraud Case

Alderman Willie Cochran (20th) on Wednesday, November 28, rejected a plea deal on bribery and fraud charges and will stand trial on June 3.

Cochran pleaded not guilty in 2016 to a 15-count indictment charging him with wire fraud, bribery, and extortion. A change of plea hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday morning in Cochran’s case.

Federal prosecutors have accused him of demanding $1,500 from an attorney for a real estate developer seeking to fix up vacant homes in his ward, and a $3,000 cash bribe from a liquor store owner seeking to sell his business to someone who needed a city liquor license. The feds also accused Cochran of using $5,000 from a charity he ran to pay for his daughter’s college tuition, and another $25,000 on casino gambling.

Cochran, a three-term alderman, is not running for re-election in 2019.

A former Chicago police sergeant, Cochran first was elected alderman of the 20th Ward in 2007, defeating his predecessor, Ald. Arenda Troutman, who was facing bribery charges of her own at the time. She later was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison.

Another former 20th Ward alderman, Cliff Kelley, was indicted in 1986 for bribery and income tax evasion. He was convicted a year later and served 9 1/2 months in prison.

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