William Helm, indicted ex-No. 2 Chicago metropolis aviation official, implicated in a second bribery scheme involving O’Hare plumbing work
A former high metropolis of Chicago airport official who has been indicted for bribery in reference to a northwest suburban highway undertaking was concerned in a separate bribery scheme involving a plumbing firm in search of enterprise at O’Hare Airport, Metropolis Corridor’s inspector normal has discovered.
Sloan Valve Firm — a Franklin Park enterprise whose plumbing fixtures are a mainstay in business loos throughout the nation — was employed to put in its mixture sink, faucet, cleaning soap dispenser and hand dryer all through O’Hare’s terminals after plying former Deputy Aviation Commissioner William A. Helm and others with greater than $20,000 in meals, drinks, golf outings, sports activities tickets and free journeys to see the Cubs at spring coaching in Arizona, based on a report Metropolis Corridor obtained from Inspector Normal Joseph Ferguson in late December.
Ferguson advisable that Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Division of Procurement ban Sloan Valve from ever getting any extra metropolis enterprise — a proposed sanction the corporate is preventing.
“Sloan discovered a gap within the material of town’s procurement processes and ripped it open to achieve entry and preferential therapy in O’Hare Worldwide Airport that its opponents didn’t share,” the inspector normal’s report says, naming Sloan co-owner Charles “Kirk” Allen Jr. and his buddy and former worker Daniel Sturch.
Sloan and firm officers haven’t been charged with any crime.
Requested concerning the report, Sloan responded with a written assertion disputing the inspector normal’s findings, declining to deal with specifics.
“For over 114 years, Sloan has been proud to name Chicago residence and has carried out enterprise with the very best integrity as an trustworthy and trusted American producer; we vigorously dispute any suggestion on the contrary,” the corporate mentioned in a written assertion. “We care deeply about our workers, our prospects and valued companions, town of Chicago and our good title. We are going to, after all, cooperate with any official inquiries, however this isn’t the suitable time or discussion board to deal with these issues.”
Sloan doesn’t have a contract with town. As a substitute, it provides fixtures to plumbing corporations employed by Metropolis Corridor.
Metropolis officers received’t talk about the inspector normal’s two-year investigation, which was prompted by allegations that Helm took cash from airport truck drivers in search of time beyond regulation whereas pressuring them to do political work for former Ald. Patrick O’Connor (fortieth).
Below Illinois regulation, Ferguson’s 87-page report isn’t out there to the general public, however a supply offered a replica and different paperwork to the Chicago Solar-Instances.
On March 5, a federal grand jury indicted Helm, a longtime Chicago Democratic political operative, accusing him of bribing former state Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, in 2018 concerning a state highway undertaking in East Dundee.
Helm — who has pleaded not responsible — retired as deputy metropolis aviation commissioner on Aug. 16, 2019. That was 5 days earlier than he was set to be interviewed by the inspector normal’s workplace about Sloan and the allegations involving the truck drivers.
He hasn’t been charged with any crime in reference to the plumbing work or the truck drivers.
“I’ll let you know that Mr. Helm was by no means offered free journeys to Arizona or anyplace else,” Helm’s legal professional Timothy Grace says. “Mr. Helm has by no means been charged with any points involving O’Hare Airport. Mr. Helm faithfully labored for the residents of Chicago and the larger Chicago space, and we’ve no management over what individuals say who’re attempting to deflect a few of their very own issues and questionable habits.”
Helm didn’t disclose any of the items the inspector normal’s report cites on his ethics disclosures to Metropolis Corridor. The town’s ethics code bars workers from receiving items price greater than $250. The aviation division bars its workers from taking any items.
Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration employed Helm, a former state worker, in 2014 as a deputy aviation commissioner overseeing airport truck drivers.
Sturch — who was Sloan’s account supervisor when the inspector normal mentioned the scheme started and later was president of considered one of its largest distributors — “cultivated a relationship with Helm,” who had no direct authority over metropolis buying contracts at O’Hare, the inspector normal discovered. Sturch informed the inspector normal that Helm, a longtime household buddy, launched him to different airport officers, together with then-chief working officer Jonathan Leach and Joseph Alesia.
“It’s no coincidence that whereas Sloan’s [sinks with soap dispensers and hand dryers] have been being put in . . . Sturch was offering Helm and Leach free journeys to Cubs spring trainings in Arizona,” the inspector normal’s report says. “In concise phrases, Sloan by Sturch bribed each Helm and Leach.”
Sturch informed the inspector normal’s workers that Helm and Leach attended spring coaching in 2016 whereas they have been working for town. Leach, who left the aviation division in July 2017, went to spring coaching with Helm in 2018 on Sloan’s tab, based on the inspector normal’s report.
Leach says he by no means took any items from Sloan whereas he was a metropolis worker.
Leach is now an legal professional with Chico & Nunes, the clout-heavy Chicago regulation agency of senior companion Gery Chico, a onetime chief of workers to then-Mayor Richard M. Daley who additionally was president of the Chicago Board of Schooling and has run unsuccessfully for mayor and the U.S. Senate.
“Throughout my employment with town of Chicago, I used to be by no means supplied, nor accepted, any journeys to Cubs spring trainings in Arizona, or some other journeys, or meals, from Sloan Valve, any of its workers, or Sturch,” Leach says. “Any declare on the contrary, regardless who makes it, is totally false. I’ve not been contacted by any authorities concerning Sloan Valve and am solely conscious of this inspector normal report by advantage of your inquiry.”
In line with the inspector normal’s report, Sturch organized a golf outing at Medinah Nation Membership on Aug. 13, 2016, for Helm and others, together with then-Ald. Michael Zalewski (twenty third), who was chairman of the Chicago Metropolis Council Aviation Committee, and Patrick Doherty, then-chief of workers to Jeffrey Tobolski, the now-indicted former Cook County commissioner and mayor of McCook.
Doherty was indicted on bribery charges in February in connection along with his work as a paid guide for the red-light-camera company SafeSpeed LLC.
On Tuesday, Tobolski pleaded guilty to filing a false income-tax return and taking more than $250,000 in bribes that included shaking down a restaurant proprietor in McCook.
Ferguson’s investigators additionally discovered that Sloan — a sponsor of the Cubs that paid for the naming rights for the team’s Sloan Park spring-training home in Mesa, Arizona — let Helm select who would throw out the primary pitch when the Cubs performed the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Subject on Sept. 25, 2015.
“Dan, the primary pitch can be thrown out by Cicero City President Larry Dominick. So the passes can be for Larry Dominick and his chief of workers. Jeff Tobolski and his chief of workers (Doherty) and your and I. Complete-6,” Helm wrote in an electronic mail to Sturch, who mentioned he wanted to know so Dominick’s title could possibly be displayed on the scoreboard.
Because of Ferguson’s investigation, Metropolis Corridor has positioned Helm on an inventory of former metropolis workers who can’t be rehired.
And Metropolis Corridor fired Nicholas Thome, a truck driver foreman on the airport, for “making false, inaccurate or intentionally incomplete statements.” In line with the inspector normal’s report: “Thome coerced subordinates to interact in political exercise for Helm’s desired candidate in trade for time beyond regulation alternatives and preferential therapy. Helm and Thome additionally solicited and obtained cash from subordinates . . . purportedly for Helm’s private journeys and items.”
Thome calls the allegations “ridiculous” and is preventing to regain his job.
“I didn’t do something fallacious,” Thome says. “We did do politics however by no means on the clock. Nothing was ever finished on airport property or time. He would have conferences at my home.”
Ferguson additionally advisable town fireplace Alesia, an airport supervisor in terminal operations, and Kevin Martin, an airport supervisor in car providers. Alesia, whose legal professional says he now not works for town, is now suing Metropolis Corridor for harassment and retailiation. Martin stays on town payroll.
Alesia, who additionally obtained tickets to sporting occasions from Sloan, has spoken to the FBI concerning Helm however refused to debate that with the inspector normal’s investigators, based on the report.
The report additionally says Alesia, Helm and Martin tried to retaliate towards a truck driver, Charles Termini, who had cooperated with the inspector normal’s investigation.
Termini is now suing the city, saying he was wrongly written up for work-rule infractions 3 times in three weeks after being interviewed by the inspector normal.