Acree: 'We don't want a rush to judgment'

West Side pastor reacts to indictment of Carothers on federal corruption charges

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By TERRY DEAN

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Austin Pastor Ira Acree says Ald. Isaac "Ike" Carothers (29th Ward), indicted this afternoon on federal corruption charges, has done good work for the community and cautions against a rush to judgment.

Carothers, 54, was indicted by federal authorities today and has been under investigation for more than three years. Federal authorities hosted a press conference this afternoon at the Dirksen Federal Building in downtown Chicago. Carothers was charged with four counts of wire and mail fraud and one count each of accepting a bribe and filing a false deferral on an income tax return.

Acree, pastor of Greater St. John Church, 1256 N. Waller, was out of town but spoke to the Austin Weekly News by phone. Acree said he learned of the indictment this morning.

"I'm saddened by the news and my prayers are with his family," he said of Carothers.

"We certainly wish the best for him and we don't want there to be a rush to judgment," Acree said.

Acree, a member of the LEADER's Network of West Side clergy, added that he'll contact Carothers on Friday, saying that he was going to "let him breathe" today.

"I've not talked with him recently but he's always accessible," he said.

Acree maintained that Carothers has worked hard for the community insisting, "that should stand for something." Acree also credited Carothers for listening to his and other community leaders' complaints about police misconduct.

"Instead of being totally dismissive of us, he held Jody Weis's feet to the floor and I appreciate that," he said, referring to the police superintendent.

Rev. Marshall Hatch, a member of the LEADER's Network and pastor of New Mt. Pilgrim Church in West Garfield, was unavailable for comment. Hatch ran unsuccessfully against Carothers for alderman in 2003. A spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Danny Davis said Davis would make a comment after the announcement of the indictment. Davis was formerly alderman of the 29th Ward.

Carothers was charged today with accepting about $40,000 in repairs to his residence, which is on Race Avenue in Austin, along with meals and tickets to sporting events in exchange for supporting a project by developer Calvin Boender, who was also indicted today. The 11-count indictment alleges that Carothers supported rezoning of a 50-acre former rail yard and industrial site in Galewood, the largest undeveloped tract of land in the city.

Carothers' father, William Carothers, former alderman of the West Side's 28th Ward, himself was convicted on federal charges of attempting to extort a hospital contractor for remodeling work in his offices for free. Isaac Carothers' grandfather, Ike Sims, was a state representative and 28th Ward committee.

Investigators this afternoon said Isaac Carothers' arraignment will take place at a later date.

Carothers' career in public service began in the Cook County Defender's Office as supervisor of investigations. In 2000, Carothers was voted chairman of the police and fire committee, the third most powerful position in the city council. He has been one of Mayor Daley's staunchest allies in city government. A graduate of DePaul University, Carothers earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science in 1977, and a master's in criminaljJustice from Chicago State University in 1987.

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

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