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Minority-contracts watchdog hit with subpoena

Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEVE PATTERSON Staff Reporter

A Cook County official responsible for verifying and monitoring minority contracts has been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury.

Betty Hancock Perry, an appointee of County Board President John Stroger, was subpoenaed earlier this year, according to court documents filed Monday.

Perry has been under fire this year, criticized for allowing Faustech Industries and Crucial Communications to continue collecting county contracts intended for minority firms, even after the City of Chicago booted the two firms from its programs.

Last month, Faustech and its owner, Faust Villazan, were indicted for bribery -- accused of securing a $49 million county hospital contract by allegedly paying one of Perry's employees $20,000.

Crucial, meanwhile, is accused of serving as a minority front for politically connected businessman Tony Rezko -- whom Stroger tapped as an honorary chairman for his May campaign fund-raiser.

As the city clamps down on abuses in its minority contracting program, county commissioners say they have been frustrated, as they've been "lied to" and "misled" by Perry, with Commissioner Bobbie Steele demanding Perry "come clean with us and tell us the truth" about the extent of work that county officials put into verifying whether companies are minority-owned.

$49 million contract was revoked

Faustech is minority-owned, but simply serves as a broker for white-owned companies in supplying the county with goods.

But when Faustech teamed with Siemens to secure that $49 million hospital contract, General Electric sued -- and a federal judge ripped the pact, which was ultimately revoked.

Faustech contributed to the campaigns of Commissioners Roberto Maldonado -- who initially denied he'd been subpoenaed but later admitted it -- and Joseph M. Moreno. Moreno asked Monday that taxpayers pay the legal bills for those advising him before the grand jury, attorneys Richard Kling and Karla Fiaoni.

Fiaoni works in Moreno's law office.

In a separate filing for taxpayers to pay a legal bill, ex-county employee Paul Newman disclosed he was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in 2000 investigating an undisclosed county matter.



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