CHICAGO | A suburban man who worked for the Forest Preserve District of Cook County is facing federal bribery charges for allegedly taking kickbacks from contracts to perform work at two facilities, including the Sand Ridge Nature Center in Calumet City.
Joseph Mollica, 52, of Elmwood Park, was indicted Wednesday on two counts of federal bribery, the U.S. attorney's office announced Thursday. He was an assistant engineer for the Forest Preserve District for more than 20 years until last week, according to a news release. He and others had authority to influence and award contracts for work less than $25,000.
Mollica faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if found guilty of each count.
On Dec. 16, 2011, Mollica is accused of accepting a $4,000 kickback from a $16,500 contract to power wash and stain the building and boardwalk and do caulking at the Sand Ridge Nature Center, the release states. He also is accused of taking a $6,000 kickback on Oct. 14, 2001, from a $24,900 contract to refinish and refurbish the Forest Preserve District's headquarters, where he worked, at 536 N. Harlem Ave. in River Forest.
In both instances, a construction company owner cooperated with federal investigators and recorded conversations and meetings with Mollica in which contracts were arranged and the kickbacks were allegedly paid, the release states. The alleged kickback payments were made after the Forest Preserve District paid the cooperating individual for the work that was performed, according to the release.
The federal indictment also seeks the forfeiture of the $10,000 in alleged kickback payments.
Mollica will be arraigned Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago. He was released on his own recognizance after his arrest Oct. 3.