Indicted Ex-Cook County Commish Has Ties to Oak Lawn Trustee
Former Cook County Board member Joseph Mario Moreno who was charged with bribery on Thursday, is a managing partner of Illinois Energy Aggregation a firm started by Oak Lawn Trustee Bob Streit.
An ex-Cook County commissioner who was arrested Thursday on federal corruption charges is an associate of Oak Lawn Trustee Bob Streit (Dist. 3).
Joseph Mario Moreno is accused of accepting bribes and kickbacks in a scheme to sell bandages to Stronger Hospital along with former Chicago alderman and convicted felon Ambrosio Medrano.
The former county commissioner also allegedly accepted $5,000 to ensure the development of a waste transfer station in Cicero while he sat on the town’s economic development committee, the federal complaint said.
Moreno, who also goes by his middle name Mario, served for 16 years as the 7th District Commissioner on the Cook County Board until he lost a re-election bid in 2010.
None of the crimes Moreno has been charged with are connected to Illinois Energy Aggregation.
The afternoon after his arrest, Moreno’s picture was taken down and all other references to Moreno as the firm’s "special counsel" had been scrubbed from the IEA website. His wife, Nancy Moreno, billed as a managing member, had also been removed.
At an Evergreen Park Village Board meeting on May 7 to discuss alternate energy suppliers, Streit said his company was neither an agent nor supplier, but could negotiate "best rates" with alternate energy suppliers on behalf of municipalities. According to the Evergreen Park board minutes, Moreno also appeared at the meeting along with Brennan and Mark Nakayama, an IEA principal.
During the presentation, Streit advised not grouping Evergreen Park with other communities; nor using a variable rate to purchase electricity in builk. Streit estimated approximately $1 million in savings to the residents and businesses of Evergreen Park.
Fran Speilmann also reported in the Chicago Sun-Times that Moreno and “top officials” from IEA pitched putting a referendum on the 2012 ballot to Ald. Ed Burke (14th), the powerful finance committee chair. After the pitch that Burke pushed for a referendum asking Chicago residents if the city should have the authority to arrange alternate energy providers. The Chicago City Council passed the resolution on Wednesday, the day before Moreno’s arrest.
Streit’s attorney friend and IEA partner, Brennan, represented another associate of the trustee, Andy Skoundrianos, who challenged the nominating petitions of Streit’s opponent in the 2011 district trustee race. Streit won by a wafer-thin 11 votes over Dan Sodaro, who ended running as a write-in candidate.
Brennan was also involved in the Oak Lawn Tax Watch referendum, in which hundreds of residents claimed their signatures had been forged on petitions to put a referendum on the ballot changing the village's form of government. The forged petitions ended with the arrest and conviction of the tax watchdog group’s president, Myrna Jurcev, of election fraud.
According to Brennan, Moreno was not present at the Chicago Finance Committee meeting when he and Streit pitched the referendum idea to Ald. Burke.
Brennan said that Moreno voluntarily terminated his relationship with Illinois Energy Aggregation following his arrest on Thursday. The attorney further stated that information on the Illinois Secretary of State’s website of Moreno still being a managing partner of the firm was “outdated.”
“[Moreno] said he wanted to transfer his shares out,” Brennan said. “He was a partner.”
Moreno’s 100 shares were transferred to Streit and Brennan; Nancy Moreno also parted ways with the firm as of Thursday.
Brennan said that he and Streit met Moreno when he spoke at a meeting. “He was doing energy work and we were forming the company. Mario was brought in.”
Prior to forming IEA, Streit and Brennan were not acquainted with the former Cook County Commissioner.
Brennan said he was surprised to hear of the charges against Moreno and found out about his arrest in the newspaper.
“He did not tell us he was under [federal] investigation,” Brennan said.
Streit, who has called for a forensic audit of Oak Lawn’s special events committee, did not return phone calls or email seeking comment.
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