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Illinois Department of Corrections
July 30, 2008 AP
Fighting back tears and apologizing to his teenage daughters, the former head of the Illinois prison system was sentenced to two years in federal prison Wednesday for taking payoffs from lobbyists. ''What I did was absolutely wrong,'' said Donald Snyder, who admitted pocketing $50,000 from lobbyists when he was director of the Illinois Department of Corrections. He said he hoped his conviction on the charges would not bias employers against his daughters when they grow up and look for jobs. ''I'm sorry, girls,'' he said, turning to the bench where they were sitting. As he tried to finish his statement, his face turned dark red, he grimaced and was unable to speak. Judge James B. Zagel chastised Snyder, who pleaded guilty, volunteered to be a federal witness, secretly recorded corrupt conversations and testified at the trial of one of the lobbyists. ''I didn't believe much of your testimony and I didn't believe much of your testimony because of your claimed lack of memory,'' Zagel told him. He said Snyder diminished the stature of government officials by setting a terrible example and making people doubt their integrity. ''You hear over and over against that all government officials are corrupt,'' said Zagel, a one-time Illinois law enforcement director. Zagel brushed aside letters from Snyder's neighbors in downstate Pittsfield, vouching for him as someone well liked in the community. ''You should have stayed in Pittsfield,'' Zagel said. Snyder admitted that he took $30,000 from Larry Sims, a lobbyist for two vendors. He said he pocketed up to $20,000 from two other lobbyists, former Cook County undersheriff John Robinson and Michael J. Mahoney. Sims and Robinson have pleaded guilty. Mahoney was acquitted in a bench trial before Zagel who said he didn't believe Snyder's testimony. The case drew the spotlight not only because of Snyder's position but because Mahoney had lobbied the prison system while executive director of the John Howard Association, a prison reform organization. At his trial, Mahoney admitted what he had done but argued that whatever the ethical lapses, he simply had not done anything illegal. Zagel agreed, though he said the defense was ''inherently unattractive.''

July 20, 2007 Sun Times
The former director of the Illinois Department of Corrections was indicted Thursday for allegedly taking $50,000 in illegal kickbacks to hand out state contracts to favored companies, including $20,000 in bribes from the former undersheriff of Cook County. The former undersheriff, John Robinson, who left his job under a cloud, had a side job as a lobbyist for companies such as Addus Health Care of Palatine, trying to get them state business. He succeeded in getting Addus a contract providing health-care services in Illinois prisons in part because he bribed then-state Corrections Director Donald Snyder with $20,000, according to the indictment. $30,000 in alleged bribes - "Addus Health Care has not had a relationship with Robinson for several years, is not accused of any wrongdoing, didn't know the alleged activity was taking place, and is assisting authorities every step of the way," said Dave Bayless, a company spokesman. Addus is referred to as "Company A" in the indictment. Also indicted Thursday was Larry Sims, a lobbyist who allegedly gave Snyder $30,000 in bribes so state business could go to an unnamed Pennsylvania health-care company. Snyder, 52, of Downstate Pittsfield, was director of the state prisons under former Gov. George Ryan, from 1999 until 2003. Thursday's indictments grew out of the Operation Safe Road probe of corruption in the Ryan administration. Robinson, 59, of Barrington Hills, was undersheriff of Cook County from 1991 until 2000. He resigned amid a grand jury probe of him allegedly using his undersheriff stationery to solicit business for a British Virgin Islands-based company that ran an alleged investment scam. He was never charged. Robinson was undersheriff for part of the time he allegedly passed money -- in increments, totaling $20,000 -- to Snyder. 5 counts of mail fraud - "John is in a proper manner facing his charges. He will do what is right," Robinson's lawyer, George Collins, said. Robinson is currently unemployed, Collins said. Sims, 58, of Downstate Pleasant Plains, was a lobbyist for several vendors, including the Pennsylvania company. Snyder and Robinson were each charged with five counts of mail fraud. Sims was charged with one count of perjury for allegedly lying to the grand jury during the investigation. Attorneys for Snyder and Sims could not be reached for comment. [Indictment is at ] [US Attorney Press Release]

April 10, 2003  The Southern Illinois
Union picket lines could begin appearing as early as next week at eight Illinois Department of Corrections facilities because of stalled contract talks between health care workers and the private vendor that employs them.  Health care workers have been without a contract since Dec. 31 and have set Monday as a strike date, said Mark Samuels, public affairs director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the state's largest public-service employee union.  AFSCME Regional Director Buddy Maupin said Tuesday that HPL is one of three primary suppliers of health care services to the state corrections system. Wexford and Addus are the other two principal contractors. Maupin said HPL's contract proposals are not only "inferior" to wages and benefits earned by state employees in IDOC who provide the same services, but they are also below those paid by Wexford and Addus.