Chicago Suburban Mayor Indicted in Insurance Scheme

October 10, 2006

Four months after his arrest on corruption charges, the mayor of a north suburban Niles, Illinois was indicted in federal court last week for allegedly coercing businesses in this northwest suburb to buy insurance from his friend.

Mayor Nicholas B. Blase, 79, is charged with leading local business owners to purchase insurance from Ralph Weiner & Associates in exchange for kickbacks from the agency. Blase, who has been mayor of Niles for 45 years, was arrested in June.

The scheme, run over the last 30 years, involved more than $420,000 in bribes, according to authorities.

Two other men with ties to the insurance agency also were indicted.

Both the agency’s president Steven Weiner, 53, and employee Paul Zdon, 61, are cooperating with authorities and are expected to plead guilty, according to the U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

Weiner’s lawyer, Jeffrey Steinback, and Zdon’s lawyer, Joseph DiNatale, confirmed in a story posted on the Chicago Tribune’s Web site that their clients are cooperating and expect to plead guilty.

Harvey Silets, Blase’s lawyer, said the mayor plans to fight the charges and remain in office.

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