Undercover Sting Leads to Recorder’s Clerk Pleading Guilty to Accepting Bribe

A  press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office:

Former Clerk at Cook County Recorder of Deeds Admits Accepting Cash Bribe in Exchange for Preparing Fraudulent Real Estate Deed

Cook Co Record of Deeds web page headerCHICAGO — A former clerk for the Cook County Recorder of Deeds pleaded guilty today to accepting a cash bribe in exchange for preparing a back-dated deed on an Oak Park home and agreeing to record it with her office.

REGINA TAYLOR accepted the $200 bribe from an individual who purportedly wanted to add a relative’s name to the deed of a residence in Oak Park, according to a written plea agreement.

Blue Ribbon from the Crook County Fair.  Taylor probably doesn't qualify for a blue ribbon.

Blue Ribbon from the Crook County Fair. Regina Taylor probably doesn’t qualify for a blue ribbon.

Unbeknownst to Taylor, the individual was actually an undercover law enforcement agent, the plea agreement states.

Taylor, 59, of Chicago, pleaded guilty to one count of honest services mail fraud.  The conviction carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offense, whichever is greater.

U.S. District Judge Sara L. Ellis scheduled a sentencing hearing for April 13, 2016, at 10:30 a.m.

According to the plea agreement, the fraudulent quit claim deed was created to add the purported relative as a fourth owner of the Oak Park property.

Taylor directed the undercover agent not to tell anyone that the three other individuals on the deed were deceased, according to the plea agreement.

Taylor then prepared the fraudulent deed and back-dated it by 18 months, confirming the purported relative as a grantee.

After giving the fraudulent deed to the undercover agent to have it stamped at the Village of Oak Park, the undercover agent gave Taylor $200 in cash, according to the plea agreement.

Taylor further directed the undercover agent to bring back the stamped copy of the fraudulent deed so that Taylor could officially file it at the Office of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds.

The guilty plea was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant United States Attorney Megan Cunniff Church.


Comments

Undercover Sting Leads to Recorder’s Clerk Pleading Guilty to Accepting Bribe — 5 Comments

  1. What a shame, yet another Democrat off to a well deserved vacation
    at the Gray Bar Hotel.

    At the taxpayers expense, of course.

  2. A felony conviction results in loss of pension.

    A Federal felony is a sentence of more than one year.

    A misdemeanor conviction does not result in loss of pension.

    —-

    Open the Books Widget

    Regina Taylor
    Clerk, Cook County Recorder Of Deeds
    2014 – $37,152
    2013 – $36,539
    2012 – $40,301
    2011 – $36,560
    2010 – $34,770
    2009 – $33,752
    2008 – $36,350
    2007 – $30,027

    ——-

    Karen Yarbrough is the elected official in charge of the Cook County Recorder of Deed’s office.

    Karen Yarbrough
    Cook County Recorder Of Deeds (elected position)
    2014 – $114,888
    2013 – $104,596
    2012 – $004,038

    Karen Yarbrough
    Illinois State Board of Elections
    2014 – $6,500
    2013 – $3,775

    Karen Yarbrough
    Illinois State Representative, 7th District
    2012 – $81,953
    2011 – $81,953
    2010 – $74,569
    2009 – $76,366
    2008 – $76,732
    2007 – $74,028
    2006 – $66,390
    2005 – $66,390

    Karen Yarbrough
    Democratic Committeewoman of Proviso Township (elected 2006, 2010, 2014)

    Karen Yarbrough
    Democratic State Central Committeewoman of the 7th Congressional District – elected 2010, 2014

    Karen Yarbrough plans to run for Illinois Secretary of State office as Jesse White has announced he plans to retire in 2018.

    The primary is March 20, 2018.

    The general election is November 6, 2018.

    —-

    Karen Yarbrough’s father (Don Williams) is a former Mayor of Maywood.

    —-

    Karen Yarbrough’s husband (Henderson Yarbrough) is also a former Mayor of Maywood.

    Henderson Yarbrough
    Mayor, Village Of Maywood
    2013 – $10,831 On April 9, 2013 Henderson Yarbrough lost to Edwenna Perkins.
    2012 – $25,600
    2011 – $25,600
    2010 – $25,600
    2009 – $19,285
    2008 – $08,400
    2007 – $08,400
    2006 – $08,400
    2005 – $04,523

  3. Here is some more information regarding a felony conviction resulting in the loss of the Illinois public sector pension.

    There are actually some exceptions to the rule (which do not apply to this case).

    To explain, each of the 20 pension systems in Illinois has its own rules about losing a pension as a result of a crime.

    In general, a felony conviction related to the job results in the loss of the pension.

    More specifically, employees in the Cook County Recorders office participate in whats commonly known as the Cook County Fund.

    It’s technical name is the, “County Employees’ and Officers’ Annuity and Benefit Fund – Counties Over 3,000,000 Inhabitants.”

    It is Article 9 of the Illinois Pension Code.

    The laws are consolidated in the Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS).

    http://www.ilga.gov > Complied Statutes > Chapter 40 Pensions > 40 ILCS 5/ Illinois Pension Code > Article 9 – County Employees’ and Officers’ Annuity and Benefit Fund – Counties Over 3,000,000 Inhabitants.

    The exact wording of the law is:

    “None of the benefits provided in this Article shall be paid to any person who is convicted of any felony relating to or arising out of or in connection with his service as an employee.”

    ——

    So one might wonder, how well funded is the Cook County Pension Fund.

    It’s in miserable financial shape, as most public sector pension funds in Illinois.

    As of Fiscal Year Ending December 31, 2014, the taxpayer IOU to the fund (unfunded liability) was $6,250,391,908.

    That’s $6.2 Billion Dollars that should have been in the fund as of Fiscal Year 2014, but was not.

    One big problem with that, is investment returns are supposed to be the biggest “contributor” to this pension fund, not employee or employer contributions.

    So guess who gets stuck with the investment shortfall due to no investment returns on the $7.1 Billion – the taxpayers (employer) get stuck with the entire tab, the employee gets stuck with zero.

    But the employees keep getting their pay raises.

    And legislators and Governors kept hiking the benefits.

    And the unions and public sector employees blame the employer for not contributing enough money to the pension fund.

    If the benefits were never hiked, if the pay hikes were more reasonable, the pensions would be 100% funded.

    —-

    Illinois Department of Insurance
    Public Pension Division
    2015 Biennial Report (covering years 2013 & 2014)
    Released October 1, 2015 to Governor Bruce Rauner and the Illinois General Assembly

    Cook County Pension Fund
    Fiscal Year Ending December 31, 2014
    Net Present Assets $9,068,398,780 (value of investments in the fund as of that date)
    Actuarial Total Liability $15,318,790,688 (amount actuaries calculate should be in the fund)
    Unfunded Liability $6,250,391,908 (amount that should be in the fund but is not)
    Percent funded 59.20%
    Active Participants 21,656 (employees contributing to the fund)
    Beneficiaries 17,076 (retirees drawing a pension)
    Average Salary $69,937 (unstated is average years worked, full time equivalent aka percent of full time, average number of hours worked per day, and average number of weeks worked per year)

    The Cook County Fund has two tiers, as do most of the public sector pension funds in Illinois.

    Tier I (Tier 1) and Tier II (Tier 2 is those beginning their career on or after January 1, 2011).

    Tier 1 does not have a maximum salary cap; Tier 2 does have a maximum salary cap, and as of FY 2014 it was $110,631.

    The accrual rate is 2.4% per year of service.

    As a comparison, TRS, the teachers and administrators outside of Chicago, has an accrual rate of 2.2%.

    Here is how it the accrual rate is used to calculate the starting pension.

    The accrual rate is multiplied by years of service (years of service is usually more than years worked in most of the public sector pension systems in Illinois); the result which is multiplied by a final average salary to arrive at starting pension.

    Maximum annuity is 80% of final average salary (once again for comparison, TRS has a maximum of 75%.

    In other words, the accrual rate x years of service cannot exceed 80%.

    And, the starting pension is 80% of final average salary.

    If the annuitant dies the spouse and child receives pension benefits (of course there’s various rules about that).

    In the case of occupational disability, the pension is 75%, or 50% for a pre-existing condition.

    There is a non occupational disability benefit of 50%.

    Most employees contribute 8.5% to the pension fund (not sure if there are any pension pick-ups by the employer of any of the employee’s contributions).

    —-

    Next let’s look at how contributions & investment gains, and the offsetting benefits paid and cost to administer the plan, are chipping away (or not) at the $6,250,391,908 unfunded liability (taxpayer IOU).

    Additions 2014
    Employer contributions $190,032,872
    Employee contributions $129,325,318
    Investment gain $488,890,897
    Total $808,249,087.
    For whatever reason the 2014 CAFR stated total additions were $817,991,149 (we’ll call that a mystery total), not $808,249,087.

    Now let’s look at how much was paid out to pensioners and the cost to administer the plan.

    Deductions 2014
    Benefits paid out $645,601,458
    Refunds $26,347,361
    Cost to administer the plan $5,010,206
    Total $676,959,025

    So, additions of $817,991,149 or $808,249,087, and deductions of $676,959,025.

    818,991,149 – $676,959,025 = $142,032,121 net additions (mystery total)
    808,249,087 – $676,959,025 = $131,291,062 net additions (add up subtotals)

    $142,032,121 / $6,250,391,908 = 2.3%
    $131,291,062 / $6,250,391,908 = 2.1%

    —–

    From the FY 2014 CAFR, the county’s payroll for employees covered by the Plan for 2014 was $1,514,550,023.

    $1,514,550,023 / $6,250,391,908 = 24%.

    That would be current payroll / unfunded liability.

    It would take roughly 4 years of current payroll (don’t pay employees for 4 years, just contribute to their pension plan) to pay down the unfunded liability.

    —–

    Another aspect of this pension fund, and not sure if it’s reflected above, is that there is a retiree healthcare component of the plan.

    —–

    Bottom line, Cook County taxpayers owe $6.2 billion to the Cook County pension fund, courtesy of all the legislative benefit hikes by legislators and Governors, and salary hikes approved by the boards.

    Not that we condone accepting a $200 cash bribe for a phony real estate deed, but that costs taxpayers a lot less than $6.2 billion to fund pensions.

  4. This sentence has an error.

    “So guess who gets stuck with the investment shortfall due to no investment returns on the $7.1 Billion – the taxpayers (employer) get stuck with the entire tab, the employee gets stuck with zero.”

    It should say.

    “So guess who gets stuck with the investment shortfall due to no investment returns on the $6.2 Billion – the taxpayers (employer) get stuck with the entire tab, the employee gets stuck with zero.”

    What happened is the Illinois Department of Insurance Public Pension Division 2015 Biennial report mixed up the Cook County and Chicago Municipal funds on the all funds summary page of the report (page 24 of the pdf, page 25 of the document itself); then they fixed the report without version control or putting a note on the website; I had stumbled across the error and corrected all of the post except that one figure.

    So know you know the Chicago Municipal (MEABF) pension is $7.1 Billion underfunded as of FY 2014.

    17 of the 20 pension systems in total, including Cook County and Chicago Municipal, are $158 Billion underfunded as of FY 2014.

    Not included in that $158 Billion is CHA, CTA, and RTA / Metra / Pace.

    In another nuance, some CHA employees contribute to the CHA pension fund, and others contribute to the Chicago Municipal pension fund.

    CHA pension fund is very well funded, although there is a long waiting list for CHA housing.

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