Mullins, 48, is accused of accepting $34,700 in exchange for steering several county contracts for disaster relief, energy grants and census work.
Mullins pleaded not guilty to the four counts of wire fraud and four counts of soliciting kickbacks brought by a federal grand jury Wednesday.
Four co-defendants will be arraigned later, federal prosecutors said. They were identified as Gary Render, 43, Michael L. Peery, 51, Clifford Borner, 45, all of Chicago, and Kenneth Gregory Demos, 50, of Oak Park. Each was charged with one count of misprision of a felony for allegedly concealing Mullins’ alleged misdeeds.
Mullins’ attorney, Brunell Donald-Kyei, said all work on the county contracts was completed and her client did not receive any money.
“He didn’t get a dime,” the attorney said.
Mullins, a former Chicago police officer of more than 20 years, was arrested Thursday morning at his job as a part-time employee at the Richton Park police department.
He is a childhood friend of Stroger, who was president from 2006 to 2010.
Mullins served as director of the Cook County Department of Public Affairs and Communications between March 2008 and November 2010.
In announcing the charges, officials said in a written statement that between January 2010 and January 2011, “Mullins allegedly used his county position to submit and cause others to submit false documents to the county to assist the four co-defendants in obtaining professional and managerial service contracts and payment from the county.”
The indictment states that Mullins “schemed to fraudulently steer” multiple grants to the other men indicted, who then gave thousands of dollars in kickbacks to Mullins. Prosecutors said the grants included a $24,980 disaster grant to Render, who gave $9,000 back to Mullins; a $24,985 energy grant contract to Peery, who returned $12,000; a $24,995 census contract to Borner, who gave $5,000 back; and a $24,997 census deal to Demos, who sent back $8,700.
The feds said the charges stem from a joint investigation with state officials that previously led to the indictment of Stroger’s one-time deputy chief of staff, Carla Oglesby, who was charged in 2010 with steering no-bid, no-work contracts to her own firm and that of her pals. Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office charged Oglesby — who is currently awaiting a trial date — with illegally steering $300,000 in county contracts to private companies controlled by herself and others during her seven months on the county payroll.
While Mullins wasn’t charged with wrongdoing in the state case, the 10-page criminal complaint listed him as “Public Official C,” law enforcement sources said. Mullins had urged that Oglesby’s PR firm, CGC Communications, receive a $24,975 contract to get the word out about the availability of flood-relief funds after storms in 2008. Mullins allegedly pressured the county’s environmental control director to sign off on a $24,995 contract for Arrei Management LLC, another firm controlled by Oglesby.
According to court papers: “At a meeting with Oglesby, Mullins and others, held on March 26, 2010, Givens expressed his concern that he did not have any of the requisite documentation regarding Arrei. . . . Despite his concerns, he signed the justification letters because ‘Public Official C’ pressured him to do so.”