A federal judge on Wednesday acquitted Michael J. Mahoney, a nationally known corrections expert, on charges that he schemed to bribe Illinois’ former top prison official to win lucrative state contracts for his lobbying clients. After the verdict was announced, Mahoney wiped tears from his eyes and hugged family members and supporters who attended the bench trial in the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse, reports the Chicago Tribune. “It’s just an incredible relief for this ordeal to be over,” Mahoney, former head of the John Howard Association, a Chicago-based prison watchdog group, said later.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Mahoney used a former business partner as a “bag man” to deliver about $20,000 in bribes to Donald Snyder Jr. while he headed the Illinois Department of Corrections from 1999 to 2002. According to the charges, Snyder kicked back millions of dollars in state contracts to business clients of Mahoney and his partner, former Cook County Undersheriff John J. Robinson. Both Snyder and Robinson pleaded guilty last year and testified against Mahoney at the trial. But U.S. District Judge James Zagel, who heard the case without a jury, found that prosecutors had not proven Mahoney participated in the scheme.