Watchdog says Pritzker toilet removals were 'scheme to defraud'

Cook County's chief watchdog has concluded that more than $330,000 in property tax breaks and refunds that Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker received on one of his Gold Coast mansions - in part by removing toilets - constituted a "scheme to defraud."

Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard also recommends in the confidential report that Cook County should try to recover the money from the billionaire.

Asked if he would repay his tax savings, Pritzker on Monday afternoon would say only: "We're going to follow whatever the recommendations, whatever it is."

The bombshell report comes just weeks ahead of a contentious November election, with polls showing Pritzker ahead by double digits. Pritzker - a philanthropist and entrepreneur - has had to defend the tax break for more than a year, and he'll likely have to do it again on Wednesday as he faces Gov. Bruce Rauner in their second televised debate.

The Chicago Sun-Times last year reported that Pritzker bought the historic mansion next door to his home, let it fall into disrepair - and then argued it was "uninhabitable" to win nearly $230,000 in property-tax breaks.

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