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Feds charge heroin ring operated inside embattled city department (Chicago)
ABC 7 chicago ^ | June 8, 2005 | AP

Posted on 06/08/2005 1:56:18 PM PDT by Land_of_Lincoln_John

Eight men and women, including two employees of Chicago's scandal-plagued city water department, were arrested Wednesday as federal investigators rolled up what they described as one branch of a Colombian drug-trafficking operation.

The water department itself, already awash in charges of bribery and other political corruption, was not charged with being part of the heroin distribution ring. But investigators did find that department workers "were engaging in this kind of conduct during weekdays, during workdays, when they should not have been," U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said at a news conference.

Federal officials said the ongoing investigation got under way in February with a tip from a government informant and could produce more arrests soon.

The charges came as a fresh blow to the administration of Mayor Richard M. Daley, whose standing with voters has fallen as a result of corruption, according to the latest Chicago Tribune poll.

A number of water department employees -- including the former first deputy commissioner, a longtime precinct captain in the Daley family's 11th Ward -- have been charged with corruption involving the $38 million Hired Truck Program, which outsourced work to private trucking companies, some with mob ties.

Private truckers got work under the Hired Truck Program in exchange for bribes and campaign contributions, federal officials allege.

Fitzgerald emphasized that the heroin charges were not part of the Hired Truck investigation. But he declined to say whether the initial tip that sparked the investigation came from anyone involved in the Hired Truck scandal.

Charged as the mastermind of the heroin-selling operation was George A. Prado, a water department hoisting engineer. His brother-in-law, Anthony C. Ritacco, and water department worker Michael D. Hart were charged with being members of the ring. Ritacco is a seasonal cement mixer for the city transportation department.

A third water department employee is a cooperating witness in the case, officials said.

One of those charged in the investigation was arrested Wednesday in New York; seven were arrested in Chicago.

A ninth defendant, described as a drug courier, was quietly taken into custody a week ago after Prado allegedly discussed beating him and perhaps killing him for losing a kilogram of heroin when Illinois State Police stopped his vehicle for a speeding violation.

"He is safely in jail," Fitzgerald told reporters.

In rounding up the defendants, FBI agents confiscated 16 kilograms of cocaine, a quarter kilogram of heroin, a gun and $50,000 in cash, Fitzgerald said.

Federal officials described Prado as a high-level distributor who bought heroin in bulk from Colombia and sold it in 100-gram amounts to wholesalers who then passed it along to dealers.

The operation was described in a four complaints totaling more than 100 pages. Two telephone taps were used to gather evidence, according to federal officials.

Even after the heroin was taken from the courier's truck on May 24, the distribution ring stayed in operation, federal officials said. They said the most recent transfer of drugs took place just two days before FBI agents and Chicago police moved in to make the arrests.

"Obviously that is very brazen," Fitzgerald said.

If convicted each defendant faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life plus a $4 million fine.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; US: Illinois
KEYWORDS: anthonycritacco; anthonyritacco; colombia; colombian; colombiandruglords; georgeaprado; georgeprado; heroin; michaeldhart; michaelhart; patrickfitzgerald; patrickjfitzgerald; peterfitzgerlald; smack
Former Senator Peter Fitzgerald, R-IL, was a successful senator if only for his recommentation to President Bush to nominate Patrick (no relation) Fitzgerald as US Attorney for Northeastern Illinois (Chicago).
1 posted on 06/08/2005 1:56:20 PM PDT by Land_of_Lincoln_John
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To: Land_of_Lincoln_John

Amen to that. He's the new Elliot Ness.

2 posted on 06/08/2005 1:59:47 PM PDT by retrokitten
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To: Land_of_Lincoln_John

Corruption? In Chicago? NOOOOoooooooooo

3 posted on 06/08/2005 2:02:41 PM PDT by Better Dead Than Red (Davis College Republicans (Best Party on Campus))
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To: Land_of_Lincoln_John
It will take a while, but Fitzgerald should have some real fun digging up rats in Streets and Sanitation. I have friends that have worked their way high up into that organization (I grew up in Chicago) and it is corrupt beyond the imagining of most people. Actually, it is corrupt in a more blue collar, egalitarian sense than the way things are "managed" out here in the California Bay Area.
For instance, there was recently a big stink in Palo Alto with some workers using city trucks and equipment in their off hours. Of course all the little people got fired - as they should. But when the city honchos messed up the electricity contract with Enron and now have the city out $25+ million, and electric rates have to go up for everyone in the city, no one gets fired or even reprimanded.
4 posted on 06/08/2005 2:05:19 PM PDT by glorgau
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To: Land_of_Lincoln_John
Democrat Party = Criminal Gang

And in Chicago, where every action by the local democrat party is a felony.

5 posted on 06/08/2005 2:06:27 PM PDT by FormerACLUmember (Honoring Saint Jude's assistance every day.)
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To: Land_of_Lincoln_John

Patrick Fitzgerald would be an interesting VP pick.

6 posted on 06/08/2005 2:09:24 PM PDT by JohnnyZ (Defeat Pat DeWine, RINO Mike DeWine's son! Tom Brinkman for Congress
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To: Land_of_Lincoln_John

Democrats. All of them democrats. In that city, the GOP DOES hold their convention in a phone booth.

7 posted on 06/08/2005 2:13:09 PM PDT by PetroniDE (We Don't Live in Texas Anymore --- State Name is Now TAXES !!)
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To: JohnnyZ
Agreed. He is a very good man and honest. However, the Mayor has so much power that if the Millennium Park scandal didn't even make a dent in the paper or his reputation this certainly will not. His association with those people was much closer than this case.

This guys has many more Commie friends in the Chicago news media than enemies. That's his shield. This Mayor has never had more money flow into the city than now with all the additional condos going up. (150,000 people in River North alone.) STILL not enough money so taxes have to go up. INSANE!! Sure, we have some new flower pots all over the city and he has made the city nicer looking but once that has all been accomplished there is not plan for reducing the taxes. It's always going up.

I see roads that were perfect being torn up for no damn reason whatever. Sick.
8 posted on 06/08/2005 2:22:51 PM PDT by SQUID
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To: Better Dead Than Red

Corruption? In Chicago? NOOOOoooooooooo
Why, the madness of the idea! The city run by the upstanding Mayor Daly, why this is just too much to believe!!!

9 posted on 06/08/2005 2:33:33 PM PDT by EagleUSA
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To: Land_of_Lincoln_John

plus...US Atty Fitzgerald is a decent Democrat...

10 posted on 06/08/2005 3:30:18 PM PDT by stylin19a ( Social Security...neither social nor secure.)
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To: Land_of_Lincoln_John
Chicago's Mayor Daley keeps on evading responsibility for ongoing breaking scandals.
He's a stand up Hudini, amongst his deeds is ordering the tear up at night of Miggs Field, an active business/private plane runway in the city. He got accolades for this nightly maneuver.
He also, even while insisting of having no such plans for years, wants to enlarge O'Hare and double capacity.
Needless to say, property does not come out Chicago's hide, but tears up suburbs.
To top it off, such doubled capacity requires additional approaches, speak roads, which is nowhere mentioned in Daley's plans, similar to originally denying plans for airport expansion.
Guess where this new road system is to come from:
Tearing up, dividing, splitting up, towns as far away as 50-80 miles away.
If anybody can accomplish such disenfranchisements, his name is Daley.
11 posted on 06/08/2005 4:19:20 PM PDT by hermgem
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To: Land_of_Lincoln_John

But investigators did find that department workers "were engaging in this kind of conduct during weekdays, during workdays, when they should not have been

Does this imply that there a specific time where "this kind of conduct" is permitted? Strange

12 posted on 06/08/2005 5:18:44 PM PDT by dozer7 (Love many, trust few and always paddle your own canoe)
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To: stylin19a

He's a democrat? Well, dem or not, he is one bright spot in IL right now. I pray for his safety.

13 posted on 06/08/2005 5:22:49 PM PDT by virgil
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