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Ex-Chicago alderman Ambrosio Medrano convicted in bribery case

Monday, June 17, 2013
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A jury has convicted a former Chicago alderman of a single count of conspiracy to commit bribery.

Leaving the federal courthouse minutes after the bribery conviction, Ambrosio Medrano's defense attorney said the battle is not over.

"We are going to file post-trial motions to challenge the jury's verdict," said Gal Pissetzky, Medrano defense attorney.

This is Medrano's second federal conviction. The former Chicago alderman, 59, was one of six aldermen indicted as part of the Silver Shovel investigation in the mid-90s. This time Medrano was arrested in a 2011 FBI sting, and accused of attempting to bribe a Los Angeles County official in exchange for a lucrative pharmaceutical contract for Medrano's associate and co-defendant James Barta, 71, the head of a $1 billion Nebraska-based prescription medication provider, who was also convicted, as was Gustavo Buenrostro, 50, of Arlington Heights. Medrano's attorney insists the whole thing was a setup.

"The government pursued these individuals from day one, created the scenario themselves and after they created it they kept on pursuing and pursuing," Pissetzky said.

All three men remain free on bond until sentencing Sept. 24. Ferderal agents allege Barta handed an undercover agent a $6,500 check as a bribe to do business with his Fremont, Neb.,-based Sav-Rx company after the three men met with the agent several times to discuss the deal. .

Speaking for the government, Assistant State's Attorney Christopher Stetler says Medrano knew that the undercover FBI agent posing as a crooked medical rep had a fictitious L.A. public official on the take, and they only provided the scenario for Medrano to either accept or reject.

"What the jury heard in this case is that Ambrosio Medrano came forward with the opportunity the plan to bribe someone he believed was a public official, and following up on that, the FBI merely presented an opportunity to follow through," said Stetler.

Medrano showed no emotion as the verdict was read Monday, sitting at a defense table with his hands folded on his lap.

Jurors deliberated for about four or five hours before returning with their decision. Two businessmen tried with him were also convicted. Medrano's conviction carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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