A prominent law firm paid $38.1 million to collect overdue Chicago parking tickets and other debt is still rolling in city business, one year after it was supposed to be fired for bankrolling an Arizona trip for a high-ranking Revenue Department official.
Last February, the collection-services law firm of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson was accused of picking up the 2003 travel tab for First Deputy Revenue Director Robert Forgue, even though Forgue had contract management authority over the firm.
Forgue resigned his $137,000-a-year job after Inspector General David Hoffman recommended his firing. Hoffman also urged the city to stop doing business with the law firm, which had raked in $33.6 million since 2002. Corporation Counsel Mara Georges agreed.
Instead, the firm was paid $4.5 million last year for 11 months of collections. In November, the firm was awarded a five-year, $3.4 million contract for “claims management, collection and cost recovery services” stemming from damage to city property.
A Revenue Department employee, who spoke confidentially to the Chicago Sun-Times, blamed the city’s reversal on the “web” of former Revenue Department officials who now work at Linebarger. They include Cathy Murray, head of the law firm’s Chicago office, and Evelyn Ramsey and Matthew Fleming.
The idea of corruption in Chicago or in Illinois is, of course, ludicrous.
Deputy Revenue Director Phil Cobb said Linebarger has assured the city that the employee involved in arranging Forgue’s trip “no longer works on city business, was removed from the Chicago office and no longer receives any compensation” from the city.