Isaac "Ike" Sims Carothers is a former alderman of the 29th ward on the far west side of the City of Chicago. He was first elected in 1999. He resigned in 2010 after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Early career
- 3 Aldermanic career
- 3.1 Election
- 3.2 Clout list
- 3.3 Metropolitan Water Reclamation District jobs
- 3.4 Relative on City Council payroll
- 3.5 Indictment
- 3.6 $100,000 bribe offer for airport contracts for Wafeek "Wally" Aiyash
- 3.7 $40,000 in home improvements for zoning change for developer Calvin Boender
- 3.8 Guilty plea and resignation
- 4 Personal life
- 5 References
Carothers grew up in Chicago where he attended public elementary school and then De La Salle High School. He earned a degree in Political Science from DePaul University and his Masters in Criminal Justice from Chicago State University.
Both Carothers' father and grandfather were city employees active in local politics. Isaac's grandfather, Isaac "Ike" Sims, was a Department of Sewers employee, Illinois State Representative and 28th ward committeeman. Isaac's father, William Carothers, was a Streets and Sanitation ward superintendent. William Carothers replaced his father-in-law, Isaac "Ike" Sims as committeeman in 1976.
Conviction of father
While alderman, William Carothers and his assistant Ozzie Hutchins threatened to block a $14.5 million Bethany Hospital expansion unless they received $15,000 worth of remodelling in their ward office. Both William Carothers and Hutchins were convicted of conspiracy and extortion on August 23, 1983. Carothers was sentenced to three years in the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana and was defeated in his next election in the 28th ward by Ed Smith in a run-off in early 1983.
Fined in civil suit for organizing intimidation campaign against political opponent
In 1985, a federal judge ordered William Carothers, his two sons, and a fourth man to pay $152,000 in damages for a campaign of physical violence and intimidation organized by William Carothers, from prison, against a political opponent, Independent incumbent State Representative Arthur Turner of the far west side 17th District who had challenged Carothers' former assistant, Ozzie Hitchins. Turner's aides were threatened with guns and one aide suffered severe injuries to the side of his head and broken bones. At the time, Isaac and his brother were both Cook County deputy sheriffs. Turner and his aides filed a civil lawsuit following their election defeat by Hitchins. U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras said Isaac Carothers appeared to be the ringleader and "organized their acts of intimidation" by force while the other son used his deputy's position to verbally threaten the plaintiffs. Isaac Carothers was ordered to pay $25,000 damages.
Isacc Carothers worked for the Cook County Defender's Office. In 1989 he was then hired as a Superintendent for the Department of Water. Carothers was hired as Director of Internal Audit for the Chicago Park District in 1993 and named Deputy Commissioner of Streets and Sanitation in 1997.
Carothers was elected alderman in 1999 after defeating eight opponents, including the incumbent alderman, Sam Burrell, in a February primary, and a ninth opponent, Floyd Thomas, in an April run-off.
Carothers highlighted a new police station, a senior housing development, a movie theater, and new restaurants as some of his accomplishments.
Carothers served on five committees: Committees, Rules and Ethics, Finance, Aviation, Special Events and Cultural Affairs Transportation and the Public Way. Just two years after being elected alderman, Carothers was appointed chairman of the City Council's powerful Police and Fire Committee.
Carothers name appeared more often than any other alderman on a list of clouted job seekers and their political sponsors unveiled by federal prosecutors in June, 2006 during the trial of patronage chief Robert Sorich.
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District jobs
In 2008 Carothers was one of seven Chicago aldermen who between them got ten of their children good-paying summer jobs with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.
Relative on City Council payroll
In 2008 Carothers paid a relative more than $30,000 from a taxpayer-funded payroll account available to aldermen without scrutiny. Carothers refused to note whether or not the William Carothers on his payroll was his father or his brother, both named William.
In 2007 the office of the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald subpoenaed Carothers demanding documents including seven years worth of aldermanic expense records; 29th Ward zoning changes; ordinances introduced by Carothers, and correspondence between Carothers and the mayor's office regarding zoning changes. The subpoena further demanded information on comments made and votes taken by Carothers since January 2001 before two City Council committees.
Carothers began helping authorities in 2008 in hopes of winning a reduced sentence for his own crimes. Beginning in early 2008, Carothers secretly wore a wire and worked undercover with the FBI. He did so for more than a year.
$100,000 bribe offer for airport contracts for Wafeek "Wally" Aiyash
Carothers wore a hidden microphone and a video camera to secretly capture his meetings with businessman Wafeek "Wally" Aiyash in June, 2008. Aiyash offered a $100,000 bribe to Carothers Aiyash thought could help him open seven restaurants in Chicago's two airports. Carothers is a member of the City Council's Aviation Committee, whose duties include approving contracts at the airports. Federal charges against Aiyash allege that Aiyash had a corrupt relationship with Carothers before the alderman began cooperating with federal authorities. Carothers rents space for his ward offices from one of Aiyash's companies.
$40,000 in home improvements for zoning change for developer Calvin Boender
The US Attorneys office in Chicago indicted Carothers on federal corruption charges on May 28, 2009. Carothers and a real estate developer, who sought to transform a 50-acre (200,000 m2) former rail yard and industrial site on the city's west side into a residential and commercial neighborhood, were indicted on federal fraud and bribery charges. The developer, Calvin Boender, paid for approximately $40,000 in home improvements to Carothers' residence and provided him with meals and tickets to professional sporting events, which Carothers illegally accepted, in exchange for Carothers' official acts supporting successful zoning changes for Galewood Yards, which was the largest undeveloped tract of land within the city limits. Carothers was charged with four counts of wire or mail fraud and one count each of accepting a bribe and filing a false federal income tax return. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of at least $40,000 from Carothers, representing the financial benefits he received in home improvements. Carothers also asked Boender to donate to the campaign of Carothers' aunt, Anita Rivkin-Carothers, who ran unsuccessfully in 2004 for Congress, and Boender enlisted two others to give contributions on his behalf. Boender and his associates donated about $55,000 to Carothers according to campaign contribution records. On March 18, 2010 a federal jury convicted Boender on five counts including bribing Carothers for a zoning change.
Guilty plea and resignation
Carothers initially pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in federal court on Monday, June 8, 2009. On February 1, 2010, Carothers pleaded guilty to one count of failing to report the home improvements on his income taxes and to one count of corruptly accepting items of value for supporting a zoning change for the project. Carothers agreed to a 28-month prison term, continued cooperation with prosecutors, and $40,000 in restitution. The plea deal calls for prosecutors to drop four more serious wire and mail fraud charges that carried stiffer penalties. Under state law, the guilty plea requires that Carothers' City Council seat be vacated immediately. Hours after entering the plea, Carothers resigned from the City Council in a letter to Mayor Richard Daley. Father William and son Isaac were convicted of almost the same crimes twenty years apart.
Alderman Carothers is married to wife Sharron, and they have two sons, Sherman and Matthew. Carothers attends Original Providence Baptist Church on Chicago's west side.
Carothers' aunt, Anita Rivkin-Carothers, is currently a judge on the Circuit Court of Cook County in the domestic violence court. As an attorney, Anita Rivkin-Carothers represented white supremacist Matthew F. Hale before the Illinois Supreme Court, defended Gangster Disciples leader Larry Hoover in federal court when there was little doubt of the outcome, and represented Tina Olison in her custody battle with Alderman Edward M. Burke and his wife Anne over Olison's child "Baby T". Anita Rivkin-Carothers ran unsuccessfully for US Congress in 2004 from the 17th Congressional District against US Representative Danny K. Davis.
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- Sun-Times News Group (2008-02-19). "Feds Probe Zoning Changes Pushed By Ald. Carothers; Questions Arise About Carothers' Relationship With Developer Turned FBI Mole". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2008-02-24. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
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- Korecki, Natasha (2010-02-01). "Ald. Carothers pleads guilty in bribery, fraud scheme; He plans to resign today from the Chicago City Council, his lawyer says". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-02-06.
- Lighty, Todd; Dardick, Hal; Coen, Jeff (2009-11-05). "$100,000 bribe offer to Chicago alderman alleged". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
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- "CHICAGO ALD. ISAAC "IKE" CAROTHERS AND GALEWOOD YARDS DEVELOPER INDICTED ON FEDERAL CHARGES ALLEGING BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION IN RE-ZONING OF 50-ACRE WEST SIDE INDUSTRIAL SITE" (Press release). United States Department of Justice, United States Attorney, Northern District of Illinois. 2009-05-28. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
- UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. CALVIN BOENDER and ISAAC SIMS CAROTHERS, also known as “Ike Carothers”, Superseding Indictment, No. 09 CR 186 (UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS, EASTERN DIVISION 2009-05-28).
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- Coen, Jeff; Lighty, Todd; Mihalopoulos, Dan (2009-05-29). "Chicago alderman indicted: Carothers took money from developer to help get project launched, prosecutors say; Isaac Carothers was paid to grease zoning changes, prosecutors say". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
- Korecki, Natasha; Golub, Art (2010-03-18). "Calvin Boender convicted on all five counts in bribery scandal; Developer was charged in case that cost Chicago alderman his job". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
- Lighty, Todd (2010-03-18). "Developer found guilty of bribing alderman; Boender provided nearly $38,000 in home improvements to then-Ald. Carothers, jury finds". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
- Korecki, Natasha (2009-06-09). "Carothers pleads not guilty to charges". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2009-06-13.
- Coen, Jeff (2009-06-09). "Chicago Ald. Isaac Carothers could change corruption plea as soon as next month, his lawyer says; Longtime Daley ally denies bribery for allegedly accepting $40,000 in improvements to his home". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-06-13.
- Simpson, Dick; Nowlan, James; Gradel, Thomas J.; Mouritsen Zmuda, Melissa; Sterrett, David; Cantor, Douglas (2012-02-15). Chicago and Illinois, Leading the Pack in Corruption; Anti-Corruption Report Number 5 (PDF). University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Political Science. Retrieved 2012-02-15.
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- Coen, Jeff (2009-05-29). "Court records indicate Carothers wore wire". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-05-29.