Crusader Staff Report
Former Alderman Willie Cochran on Monday, June 23, was sentenced to a year and one day in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud charges.
Cochran was ordered to report to prison by 2 p.m. on August 23. The judge also sentenced Cochran to two years of supervised release. Cochran is the 30th alderman to be convicted of crimes related to official duties since the 1970s.
Prosecutors said Cochran’s jail time should deter others from similar temptation to do wrong. A former Chicago police officer, Cochran in 2007, defeated Alderman Arenda Troutman. In 2009, Troutman was sentenced to four years in prison for taking thousands of dollars in payoffs and campaign money from developers who wanted zoning changes and other favors in the 20th Ward.
In March Cochran resigned as alderman after pleading guilty to wire fraud charges. He admitted to taking $14,000 from a 20th Ward charity he founded to help seniors and children. Prosecutors said over a four-year period, the former alderman withdrew more than $64,000 from the fund. Prosecutors said that Cochran used a portion of the withdrawals to pay for his daughter’s tuition, home expenses and gambling at an Indiana casino.
Cochran’s lawyers denied those claims and asked that their client be given probation and six months on home incarceration.
“We have a very stubborn public corruption issue in the city of Chicago and we’ve seen that historically and we’ve seen that happen here with this case with former Alderman Cochran,” said John Lausch, US Attorney at United States Attorney’s Office for The Northern District of Illinois.
At a press conference after his sentencing, Cochran said that he regrets pleading guilty and called his sentence unfair. He compared his case to former Aaron Schock, the Illinois Congressman who did not go to jail despite pleading guilty to misusing campaign money to fund a lavish lifestyle.“You let one man walk out with $800,000, with no charges, and an agreed-upon $14,000 with me ends up with a year in jail,” Cochran said.
Lausch said that was a “Totally separate case. Every single investigation and prosecution is looked at separately and we resolve them based upon the facts and circumstances of those cases,” Lausch said.
Cochran said “This is a bump in the road, we will come back, and get everything back that the devil stole from us.”