December 2, 2022

Trading favors

The 66-page indictment includes transcripts of communications between the elected officials — Aldermanic President Lewis Reed, Alderman John Collins-Muhammad and Alderman Jeffrey Boyd — and “John Doe,” the businessman seeking a tax abatement and other consideration. Here are excerpts:

On Jan. 24, 2020, John Doe asked Alderman John Collins-Muhammad what he owed him for his letter of support for the proposed tax abatement. Collins-Muhammad said “25,” meaning $2,500, and said he’d return that afternoon to collect.

John Doe: I really appreciate it, my man.

Collins-Muhammad: No problem at all.

John Doe: You’re saving me plenty of money.

Collins-Muhammad: That’s our job

John Doe: For this … the place. You know?

Collins-Muhammad: That’s our job as an alderman, we’re supposed to help out business owners.

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June 17, 2020, Collins-Muhammad and Doe discussed a public official, identified only as “Public Official One” whom Collins-Muhammad claimed could obtain government contracts for John Doe’s trucking and hauling company, the indictment says. The two agreed to split profits from contracts that Doe obtained through that official’s help.

John Doe: Should I throw him something?

Collins-Muhammad: (Expletive) yeah, you should throw him something. Yeah, you should throw him something.

John Doe: OK.

Collins-Muhammad: If you don’t throw him something, he’ll never come back.

John Doe: No, I’ll throw him something.

Collins-Muhammad: Throw him something.

John Doe: Should I give him 10 (thousand)?

Collins-Muhammad: 10 is good.

John Doe: 10,000.

Collins-Muhammad: 10 is good

John Doe: I’ll give it to him tomorrow. I’ll have 10 for him and I’ll have, how much for you, John?

Collins-Muhammad: Whatever you give me, me and you have a relationship.

_____

On June 15, 2021, John Doe and Collins-Muhammad discussed a car Doe provided him as part of their arrangement.

John Doe: How is the vehicle?

Collins-Muhammad: Perfect.

John Doe: Driving good?

Collins-Muhammad: Smooth sailing.

That same day, Collins-Muhammad tells John Doe to “start digging. Like go, man. you got the, you go the green light.”

Ten days later, Collins-Muhammad introduced a tax abatement bill for John Doe’s project.

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In January 2021, Aldermanic President Lewis Reed agreed to help John Doe obtain a minority business certification for his trucking and hauling company, the indictment says and also agreed to help John Doe get contracts for future city construction projects. That’s when John Doe gave Reed $2,000 cash.

John Doe: We’re going to help each other for the long run.

Reed: The long run. We’re gonna all grow together.

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Over the next several months, John Doe gave Reed’s campaign contributions totaling $3,500 and four more cash payments totaling $4,000 all in exchange for Reed’s help, the indictment says.

In August 2021, Reed, Collins-Muhammad and John Doe met at Reed’s campaign office to discuss the tax abatement project.

Reed: Hey brother, by the way this guy (Collins-Muhammad) has your back, 1,000%.

Collins-Muhammad: 1,000% this is my guy. That’s my guy.

It was at that meeting, the indictment said, that Reed and Collins-Muhammad urged John Doe to slow down construction on his project to allow the tax abatement approval process to work out.

Reed: Can you slow it down some?

Collins-Muhammad: As long as you don’t complete construction before, you get the tax abatement.

John Doe said he could.

_____

In a December 2021 meeting at Reed’s office, Reed told John Doe about a recall effort to unseat Collins-Muhammad and that Reed was hoping to run a “unified campaign” for mayor that required a $1 million war chest of campaign funds. He asked John Doe to donate $20,000.

John Doe: I brought cash with me. What would work?

Reed: If you can do five today, that would be a huge help.

John Doe: I got you I got you. But I was really trying to get with, you know, I’ve got somebody who was working the tax abatement named (ZW).

Reed halted the conversation, appearing to want to avoid mixing campaign talks with business interests.

Later, though, Reed wrote a schedule for introduction and passage of the tax abatement board bill, gave it to John Doe and accepted from John Doe $4,000.

Reed: Thanks, man.

John Doe: Any time, my brother. I appreciate you a lot, because you, know, you helped me big time.

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On July 30, 2020, John Doe, at Alderman Jeffrey Boyd’s instruction, emailed him a letter about his desire to purchase city-owned land in his ward. Boyd asked John Doe what he planned to bid for it, and John Doe said $9,000.

Boyd: OK, doing letter now.

John Doe: Thank you, my brother.

Boyd: My pleasure, I’m very PRO BUSINESS.

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In an April 2021 meeting at John Doe’s business, Boyd assured John Doe he was “home free now” with the purchase of land from the city.

John Doe: I’m going to the bank to get a cashier’s check. You saved me a lot of money, my brother, a lot of (expletive) money. This place, if it’s (for sale) by owner, I could have paid at least quarter-million dollars for it.

Boyd: Well, it’s all about good relationships, you know.

John Doe: That’s right, that’s right. I appreciate it, my brother, you saved me a lot of money.

John Doe: Piece of cake. If you wasn’t in the picture, I’d have gone through hell.

Boyd: Yeah, it’s good to have a good alderman.

John Doe: That’s right, that’s right of course.

Boyd: You know I didn’t hesitate, did I?

John Doe: I know.

John Doe then offered Boyd $2,000 cash.

Boyd: It’s OK, (John Doe). Trust me, it’s OK, you don’t have to worry

John Doe: You did a lot. I know I don’t have to.

Boyd: I appreciate it but you know when I’m no longer alderman, I want you to take my phone call.

Boyd then accepted $2,000 cash.

_____

On Feb. 18, 2022, Boyd met with John Doe where John Doe gave Boyd $2,500 in cash.

John Doe: This is respect from me to you, you are a very respectful man.

Boyd: I appreciate it.

John Doe: I know I’m good; you are a good man. You know and what you did for me, it’s you save me a lot of money my brother, he’s 25 (hundred dollars).

Boyd: No problem.

They also discussed a bill by Collins-Muhammad to provide tax abatement on John Doe’s other development project. John Doe asked Boyd to keep an eye on that bill, too.

Boyd: For Natural Bridge?

John Doe: No, Von Phul.

Boyd: Yeah I don’t see that being a big problem unless people sign up and bitch about it, but it’s gonna pass. I mean hell, I’ll make the motion to pass, I think (John) might be on HUDZ though. I’ll get out of HUDZ, then it’ll get to the floor and only if some of these f—–g little young white progressives act a f—–g fool, you now. They can shut s–t down. So we just have to make sure that we hold our s–t together. For the most part, I don’t anticipate a problem.

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