Day At The Track

Rod Blagojevich- corruption - harness racing

05:08 AM 15 Dec 2008 NZDT
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Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich
Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich
Courtesy Of - The Official website for the State of Illinois

Illinois politicians have a bit of a reputation of being a tad corrupt. Their history goes well back before the latest saga where Governor Rod Blagojevich has been allegedly accused of trying to put up former Senator and now president-elect Barack Obama's senate seat up to the highest bidder. Harness racing also has a bit of a dubious history.

Federal Judge Otto Kerner, who served as governor in the 1960s, was found to have accepted bribes of racetrack stock but only after the track owner deducted it on her taxes as a cost of doing business.

Then there was Paul Powell, an Illinois secretary of state, longtime state legislator and infamous dealmaker, died in 1970, had emerged unscathed from a grand jury investigation into accusations that he bought stock in a harness racing company.

More on Kerner and Powell can be viewed in this New York Times story. There's also another interesting article on the Federal Judge.

And while on the subject of corruption in both Illinois politics and harness racing, there was also of course well known harness racing owner John Leahy, from Chicago, who in May 2005 was sentenced to almost four years in prison. He has since been released.

As head of a Chicago insurance brokerage Company he was convicted in an insurance scam involving businessman James Duff. He was convicted of aiding Duff in cheating insurers of more than $3 million.

Leahy was USTA Owner of the Year a few years ago, owning such great horses as Pacific Flight N, Ohyouprettything, The Big Dog, Big Tom, and Jeremes Jet.

Duane RANGER (editor)

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