Former Ald. Ricardo Munoz gets 13 months in prison for spending $38,000 in campaign cash on personal expenses

CHICAGO (CBS) — Former Ald. Ricardo Munoz was charged to 13 months in prison on Thursday, after pleading guilty last year to charges of stealing money from a campaign fund to spend on vacations, jewelry, tickets to sporting events, college tuition, and other personal expenses.

Munoz, 56, was ordered to report to prison on June 1. His defense team asked a federal judge to recommend he serve his sentence at a federal prison in Duluth, Minnesota.

He also faces 18 months of supervised release, the federal equivalent of parole, after he is released from prison.

Munoz, who represented the 22nd Ward from 1993 until 2019, was indicted last April on 15 federal counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. On Monday, He pleaded guilty in September to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering.

According to his plea agreement, while Munoz was serving as chairman of the Chicago Progressive Reform Caucus, he absconded with $37,891.99 from the group’s political action committee to use on personal expenses.

The caucus removed him as chairman in 2019, after accusing him of questionable spending in filings with the Illinois State Board of Elections. The complaint led to the federal charges against Munoz.

Munoz admitted to using the money he stole for jewelry from a Louis Vuitton store, an insurance payment on his car, women’s clothing from Nordstrom’s, three iPhones, a skydiving excursion, tickets to Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Kings games, and travel to Los Angeles . He also paid overdue college tuition for a family member.

Munoz retired in 2019, after his wife accused him of physically abusing her. He was later acquitted of a misdemeanor charge of domestic battery. He had been arrested on Jan. 2 of that year after police said he got into a quarrel with his wife on New Year’s Eve two days earlier, and shoved and hit her.

A month after the alleged incident, the Chicago Tribune reported Munoz’s wife, Betty Torres Munoz, said she wanted to reconcile with her husband – calling him a “really good man” dealing with alcohol addiction.

Three other former or sitting Chicago aldermen also are facing federal charges.

Former 11th Ward Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson was convicted last month of filing false tax returns and lying to federal regulators in connection to $219,000 in loans he received from Washington Federal Bank for Savings, a failed bank in his ward. His sentencing has been scheduled for May.

Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) and her chief of staff were indicted last July on federal charges, accusing them of taking bribes from a construction company seeking Austin’s support for a development in her ward. They are still awaiting trial.

Ald. Edward Burke (14th) was indicted on federal racketeering charges in 2019, accusing him of multiple schemes in which he sought to shake down developers seeking his support, in exchange for hiring his private law firm to appeal their property taxes. The targets of his schemes included the developers of the old main post office building downtown, a Burger King restaurant in his ward, and a developer seeking his help with financing and a sign permit for a project in Porgate Park. Burke’s trial date has not yet been set.

Leave a Comment