- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 10, 2005

CHICAGO (AP) - The head of a suburban trucking company admitted yesterday that he bribed city employees to get hauling work in Chicago’s scandal-plagued Hired Truck Program.

The admission came as Martin McDonagh, 37, pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents who asked whether he knew John E. “Quarters” Boyle, a key figure in the investigation who also is charged. McDonagh pretended to have only the haziest of recollections.

“Why does that name sound familiar?” McDonagh acknowledged responding when FBI agents asked him in July whether he knew Mr. Boyle.

McDonagh admitted in a signed plea agreement that he paid Mr. Boyle bribes and funneled contributions to an unidentified Chicago Democratic ward organization through him. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine at his June 9 sentencing.

McDonagh, of Naperville, was charged as part of a yearlong federal investigation of the $38 million-a-year program under which the city outsources hauling work to private trucking companies without competitive bidding.

Prosecutors say city officials ran a shakedown operation in which they got payoffs, gifts and campaign money from trucking companies in exchange for work.

After the scandal broke, Mayor Richard Daley ordered all companies in the program to reapply and said he would hire an outside administrator to oversee the program.

McDonagh said in his plea agreement that he applied to Angelo Torres, who was then the head of the Hired Truck Program, for work for Elliott Trucking Co. in February 2003.

When Mr. Torres said the program was closed to new truckers, McDonagh went to Mr. Boyle, then an employee of the city transportation department, who told him to give his application and $1,500 to city supervisor Nick LoCoco.

McDonagh said he delivered the money to Mr. LoCoco in an envelope and the Elliott company soon had six trucks in the program. In all, he gave Mr. Boyle and Mr. LoCoco $16,000 over two years, he said.

Mr. Boyle, 44, has pleaded not guilty. He got his nickname “Quarters” when he went to prison in the early 1990s for stealing $4 million, largely in quarters, from the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority.

Mr. Torres, 37, also has pleaded not guilty, but his attorney has said he hopes to make a deal with federal prosecutors.

Mr. LoCoco, 64, died Dec. 9. Officials say he fell from a horse.

Another city worker, Jason Martin, 32, is charged with bribery. His attorneys said he, too, expects to make a deal with prosecutors.

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