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posted: 8/2/2012 5:07 PM

Former Cook official charged in kickback scheme

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Federal authorities charged a former Cook County official on fraud and corruption charges Thursday.

Eugene Mullins, 48, of Chicago, is the county's former director of public affairs and communications. He is accused of steering county contracts and receiving kickbacks from the people who received the contracts. All the contracts were for just under the $25,000 threshold that requires board scrutiny.

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Mullins was indicted on charges of wire fraud and soliciting kickbacks, prosecutors said. He faces a maximum of 20 years behind bars if convicted of wire fraud.

Four other defendants were also charged as part of the scheme. Those four -- three from Chicago and one from Oak Park -- are charged with misprision of a felony for allegedly concealing Mullins' activities, which carries a maximum prison sentence of three years, authorities said.

Prosecutors said Mullins received $34,700 in kickbacks from the four men who pocketed a combined total of $65,257. The government is seeking a return of those funds.

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