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Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky’s husband indicted

By Mike Robinson
The Associated Press

March 11, 2004, 11:35 AM CST

Robert B. Creamer, the husband of U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, was indicted today on federal charges of operating three check-kiting schemes that defrauded banks out of at least $2.3 million while he ran an Illinois public interest group.

Creamer, 56, of Evanston, was charged with 16 counts of bank fraud for allegedly swindling nine different financial institutions. He also was charged with 18 counts of tax fraud.

There were no allegations of wrongdoing against Schakowsky.

The congresswoman issued a statement shortly after the indictment was released saying she was ``shocked and disappointed to learn that the Justice Department has decided to bring charges against Bob, seven years after these allegations were first raised.''

Schakowsky said she was confident her husband would be proved innocent.

According to the indictment, Creamer floated check and wire transfer deposits between bank accounts to inflate their balances and hide their deficiencies.

It alleges that he caused a series of insufficiently funded checks and wire transfers to be drawn on accounts he controlled as executive director of the Illinois Public Action Fund, a not-for-profit public interest organization. Creamer then allegedly deposited the money into other accounts he controlled.

According to the indictment, Creamer used the inflated balances to pay expenses of his organization, as well as his own salary and discretionary expenses.

Creamer resigned as the longtime executive director and president of the group in 1997 after the FBI questioned him about a $1 million overdraft. According to the government, the Illinois Public Action Fund was also known as Illinois Public Action, Public Action and Illinois Citizen Action Fund, and is currently known as Citizen Action/Illinois.

Creamer is also charged in the indictment with failing to pay more than $300,000 in federal income taxes for employees of the group and for himself between 1996 and 2000. Four other counts allege he filed false income tax returns between 1996 and 1999.

Each count of bank fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and $1 million fine. Each count of failing to collect and pay withholding taxes carries a penalty of five years, and each count of filing a false tax return carries a penalty of 3 years.

Schakowsky, a Democrat elected to Congress in 1998, served on the public interest group's policy board but has said she was never involved in its business maters.

``My husband was innocent seven years ago and he is innocent today,'' Schakowsky said Thursday. ``The indictment does not even allege that Bob sought personal gain, caused personal loss to any individual or caused any financial loss to any bank.''

In fact, the indictment alleged that Creamer ``knowingly utilized the fraudulently inflated balances created at Cole Taylor (Bank) to pay and attempt to pay his own personal salary and discretionary expenses.''

``I know that he will continue his work to promote consumer rights and I believe in the end he will be fully vindicated,'' Schakowsky said.

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