NOVEMBER 03, 2008
The longtime mayor of a northwest Chicago suburb charged with federal corruption for taking bribes throughout nearly half of his decades-long tenure has finally admitted guilt.
The veteran politician, who served as Niles mayor for nearly 50 years, had firmly maintained his innocence since being arrested a few years ago but the prominent Democrat evidently had a change of heart amid mounting evidence against him.
Nicholas Blase finally admitted that he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from his friend’s insurance agency to steer local businesses to buy policies they really didn’t need. In a 29-page federal complaint prosecutors claim the mayor threatened to withhold liquor and business licenses from restaurant owners unless they bought insurance from the company.
Authorities say Blase took nearly half a million dollars in bribes over at least 20 years. The 80-year-old mayor was extremely popular and well-known for fighting crime and driving the mob out of his cozy little town, which has a population of about 30,000 and is located only 15 miles from downtown Chicago.
Blase was first arrested at his home on his 78th birthday in 2006 but he didn’t resign until a few months ago. He immediately entered a not guilty plea and said he stepped down in August because he was tired and wanted other mayoral candidates to start campaigning without wondering if he’s running again.
Now the popular lawmaker faces 20 years in prison and a fine of up to a quarter of a million dollars. He actually got off easy because, in return for guilty pleas to mail fraud and tax evasion, the government agreed to drop nine additional corruption charges against Blase.
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