Former Ald. Ricardo Muñoz hopes to avoid jail after pleading guilty to wire fraud and money laundering | Chicago News

Former Ald. Ricardo Muñoz, right, listens to his attorney Richard Kling speak to the media on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. (Heather Cherone/WTTW News)

Federal prosecutors have argued Ricardo Muñoz deserves a year in jail after pleading guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges, but an attorney for the former 22nd Ward councilman believes his client might rather serve a sentence in a community setting.

In a sentencing memorandum filed Tuesday, defense attorney Richard Kling said a sentence of community service and supervised release would be “sufficient, but no more than necessary” for Muñoz.

“While Mr. Munoz did not attempt to bribe government officials into lucrative contracts, or attempt to buy a Senate seat,” Kling wrote in the filing, “he acknowledges and acknowledges that he abused his position of trust, that his behavior was nonetheless unlawful and violated his obligations and responsibilities to the community that gave him the position he held. For this behavior, he accepts full responsibility.

Muñoz, who was first appointed to the city council by former mayor Richard M. Daley in 1993, was charged with 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering in April 2021. He has left office in 2019 after deciding not to run for re-election.

Muñoz eventually pleaded guilty, admitting to transferring $16,000 from the Chicago Progressive Reform Caucus account on October 31, 2016, and then making a payment of $15,234 to an out-of-state college to resolve a tuition bill in delay. At the time of the tuition payment, Muñoz’s account contained approximately $300, according to federal prosecutors.

In a separate court filing last month, the government asked U.S. District Judge John Kness to sentence Muñoz to a year and a day in prison, saying he “abused his public position and betrayed the public trust.” .

The federal government says any sentence for Muñoz that does not include jail time sends the “wrong message to the public: that officials who violate the law are held to a different — more lenient — standard than others.”

But Kling argued that if his client’s conduct “was illegal, plain and simple,” Muñoz has already been called a convicted felon and is working to pay restitution to the caucus.

“Finally,” writes Kling, “one must ask whether an already overburdened criminal justice system should devote the time, money and other resources necessary to ‘house’ someone who is not a danger to the community. and who is quite capable of lodging himself at his own expense and not out of the taxpayers’ budget.

Kling also suggests that the court could require Muñoz to perform a “significant amount of community service” as part of his sentence.

Muñoz was due to be sentenced earlier this month, but that hearing was delayed due to COVID-19 concerns. His next hearing is scheduled for February 11.

Heather Cherone contributed to this report.

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson | [email protected] | (773) 509-5431

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