In a rare setback for the U.S. attorney’s office in a public corruption case, a federal judge on Friday dismissed several bribery charges against the owner of a Pennsylvania debt-collection business accused of steering money to then-Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown’s campaign in exchange for government business.
U.S. District Judge John Lee’s ruling in the case against Donald Donagher Jr. is being closely watched among Chicago’s legal community as Donagher’s attorneys have alleged that prosecutors overstepped the language of the federal bribery statute in bringing the indictment.
Lee said during a hearing Friday that prosecutors failed to allege an “explicit” quid pro quo in the charges alleging Donagher’s campaign contributions to Brown were actually bribes.
The judge dismissed the three bribery counts in the indictment dealing directly with campaign contributions, as well as elements of the overarching conspiracy count that alleged the same conduct. Lee left the door open for prosecutors to recharge the offences if they offer new evidence.
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