Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bad day for Hillary's 'family friend'


Convicted criminal and Democratic campaign donor extraordinaire John Burgess had a bad day. First, he took a couple hits in federal court and then Fox Chicago did a three-minute exclusive story highlighting alleged fraud at his beleaguered business consulting firm, International Profit Associates in the Chicago suburbs.

The Fox story was not kind to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, questioning, as I have done several times here, why she won't return money from a company she is investigating. And, Fox wanted to know, why has the investigation taken four years with no results when a federal judge in a civil fraud lawsuit found recently that the case brought by 40 small businesses across the country amounted to a valid racketeering cause of action.

Fox noted that IPA has thrown around more than $1 million in campaign contributions to various politicians, mostly in Illinois. Hillary Clinton has taken roughly $165,000 in IPA cash and has ridden in the IPA corporate jet. A Clinton spokesman once described Burgess as a "family friend."

In federal court today, judge Elaine Bucklo turned down a request from IPA to reconsider her refusal last week to dismiss the racketeering case. Small business owners turned right around and filed motions to preserve evidence and to freeze Burgess' assets, noting his criminal past.

There is a great likelihood that Burgess might hide or otherwise dissipate its illegal ill-gotten funds if his assets are not frozen. Burgess has a history of misappropriating, hiding, and refusing to return funds. During the investigation that preceded his 1987 disbarment as a lawyer in New York, Burgess "testified under oath before the staff of the [Grievance] Committee, he stated that he was a member in good standing of the Bar of the State of Illinois. He subsequently conceded that he had never been admitted to the Bar in that State.

He admitted under oath that he refused to comply with lawful directives from the Social Security Administration made on August 1, 1985 and November 15, 1985 to refund an illegal fee of $ 1,400, until after his client retained another lawyer and brought a lawsuit for recovery of the fee. Bank records show that on August 1, 1985, respondent withdrew the sum of $ 40,000 from the estate account and deposited the proceeds in his office account, and that after August 13, 1985, the
balance in his office account was substantially below the sum of $ 40,000."

The court held, "that the above admissions and uncontroverted evidence demonstrate that respondent is guilty of misconduct immediately threatening the public interest. Clearly, on the evidence before us, he cannot be trusted with clients' funds and he should be suspended forthwith."
Madigan didn't have much of an answer to why she refuses to disassociate herself from a company she is investigating. Reporter Nancy Pender said only that Madigan's office noted "that investigations like this take time."

Yes, investigations like this certainly do take time.

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