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FBI indicts city inspector for lying about contractor ties in Carrie Austin investigation

Alderman Carrie Austin (34th) (Credit: 34th Ward)

Alderman Carrie Austin (34th) (Credit: 34th Ward)

A Chicago city inspector was indicted on charges he lied about his relationship with a contractor ensnared in the federal probe of Alderman Carrie Austin (34th).

Joseph Garcia pleaded not guilty this week to charges of wire fraud and lying to investigators. Prosecutors said he lied about his relationship to the contractor, and he certified the company had completed city-funded emergency porch replacements when the work really hadn’t been done, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The company isn’t identified in Garcia’s indictment, but the Tribune confirmed it was Oakk Construction and that two company officials referenced in the indictment are Oakk principal Alex Nitchoff and project manager John Bodendorfer.

Part of Garcia’s job was to verify that rehab work done under the city’s Emergency Housing Assistance Program was completed before the contractor was reimbursed. Authorities allege he claimed Oakk had finished work that it really hadn’t, allowing it to get paid by the city. Garcia also lied when he said he didn’t have a relationship with Nitchoff and Bodendorfer, according to the indictment.

His indictment is part of a grand jury investigation that has issued subpoenas related to a network of Nitchoff family-related companies including Oakk — and a home Austin bought in her ward from a developer at a possible steep discount.

Austin has not been charged with a crime, nor has anyone related to the Nitchoff’s companies. [Chicago Tribune]John O’Brien

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