(CHICAGO) A former Cook County sheriff’s deputy and a former Cook County circuit court clerk employee were sentenced to probation Friday for their roles in a scheme to bilk a couple out of $2,000 while promising to help get a traffic case thrown out.
Jaime Baez, 62, was given two years probation after he pleaded guilty to bribery before Cook County Judge Maura Slattery Boyle, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting. Benjamin Maldonado, 53, was given a year probation following his plea to a theft charge.
The judge ordered Baez to pay a $269 fine; Maldonado has to pay $654.
Both men worked at the Daley Center at the time of the 2010 incident. Baez was a sheriff’s deputy and Maldonado was a clerk in the circuit court clerk’s office.
Maldonado and Baez took $2,000 from a man who was seeking legal representation after being charged with driving without a license. That man and his wife had previously dealt with Baez and contacted him for a legal referral, prosecutors said.
Baez ended up “referring” the couple to Maldonado, who is not an attorney. But he boasted that they should consider the case “won” and told the couple he would also use his connections to “clear up” the man’s driving record, prosecutors said.
The couple paid Maldonado $1,000 at that first meeting. They gave Baez $500 and gave Maldonado the remaining money at the next court date.
But Maldonado left and never came into the courtroom, where the victim was told he could be jailed for his offenses.
When the couple contacted Maldonado to express their concerns a few days later, Maldonado assured them he had “fixed everything” and that the man would not be required to show up to court, prosecutors said.
The man took Maldonado’s advice and did not attend court. Five days later, a Chicago Police officer came to the couple’s home with a warrant for the man’s arrest. Maldonado assured the man’s wife he’d take care of the arrest, prosecutors said.
Later that day, Baez told the woman she shouldn’t be telling anyone that she had paid them to help with the traffic case.
When the couple next went to court at the Daley Center, Maldonado told the man to refer to him as his translator and not his lawyer, prosecutors said.
Maldonado also allegedly told the man to tell the judge he had missed court because he was visiting his mother, who was ill.
Several weeks later, the man was arrested again for driving without a license.
When he appeared in bond court he found out that Maldonado had not “fixed” his driving history when his record still showed four prior convictions.