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Federal Judge Dismisses Several Chicago Bribery Charges Against Pennsylvania Debt-collection Business

  • Written by Steel Rose

In a rare setback for the U.S. attorney’s office in a public corruption case, a federal judge on Friday dismissed several bribery charges against the owner of a Pennsylvania debt-collection business accused of steering money to then-Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown’s campaign in exchange for government business.

U.S. District Judge John Lee’s ruling in the case against Donald Donagher Jr. is being closely watched among Chicago’s legal community as Donagher’s attorneys have alleged that prosecutors overstepped the language of the federal bribery statute in bringing the indictment.

Donagher, chief executive officer of the Penn Credit Corp., was accused in the indictment filed in 2019 of sending an email in 2011 to his employees and a company lobbyist in Illinois indicating he had promised Brown “10K of ‘early’ money” in exchange for a lucrative contract with the county.

The next month, he donated $10,000 to her campaign fund, prosecutors said.

Brown, however, was never charged in the case. Donagher’s attorneys have criticized the government for accusing someone of paying bribes without indicting the elected official who allegedly took them.

Donagher’s lawyer, Theodore Poulos, said in a court filing last year that if prosecutors could have proven a quid pro quo existed, then Brown surely would have been charged. To read more click here