April 19, 2024

Eye On Illinois: Feds’ trade yields large prison sentences while Link might get probation

It’s apparently numbers week here at Eye On Illinois, but rather than break down budget proposals or comptroller dashboards, the Department of Justice delivered some different data points Tuesday.

In a 10-page memo, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine O’Neill asked U.S. District Judge Mary Rowland to hand down a sentence of three years of federal probation for former state Sen. Terry Link while ordering the Vernon Hills Democrat to pay $82,660 in restitution.

Rowland is within her rights to give Link up to a year in prison after his September 2020 guilty plea for spending more than $73,000 from his campaign coffers on personal expenses and also under-reporting his income on tax returns; the restitution covers the government’s lost revenue.

However, Link let the FBI record phone calls, read emails and collect bribes sent to his post office box. He wore a recording device for meetings with former state Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, and businessman James Weiss, both of whom earned their own federal indictments. That work allowed the feds to win a conviction against Weiss, now serving a 66-month prison sentence, and Arroyo, who got 57 months.

In light of those 123 months, passing up a dozen for Link seems a light price to pay. It’s probably not too difficult for a 76-year-old retiree to comply with probation terms, the government gets its back taxes and Link neither has nor desires a political future.

Prison for tax-cheat lawmakers is a plausible outcome. Almost two years ago a different federal judge gave former state Rep. Eddie Acevedo, a Chicago Democrat who also once worked for the city’s police department, six months for avoiding $37,380 in taxes.

At this point the feds need a table like the NFL trade value chart that shows how much compensation should be expected based on round and position, except instead of the Bengals picking 80th overall (16th in the third round) we could see which elected office, how much income tax is owed and to what extent the guilty party helped fry bigger fish.

Those numbers always tell a good story.

ON THIS DAY: When trolling for historical facts Feb. 29 is a shallower pool than the 365 days we get every year, but there are some Illinois notables, such as the incorporation of Antioch as a village, recorded in Lake County this day in 1892. The State Historical Society notes Antioch’s original incorporation was Feb. 16, 1857. Today also marks 12 years since an EF-4 tornado killed six people in Harrisburg. Notable birthdays include the late detective-turned-actor Dennis Farina, born in Chicago (1944) and noted math professor Gene Golub (Chicago, 1932) who graduated from University of Illinois before a distinguished teaching and research career at Stanford.

• Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.

Scott Holland

Scott T. Holland

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media Illinois. Follow him on Twitter at @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.