Saturday, August 13, 2005

REACT: Seven years in jail for John "Quarters" Boyle

The massive scandals surrounding Chicago's City Hall seem to produce one horrific abuse of public trust after another. Consider the case of John "Quarters" Boyle. He is on his way to prison for 7 years for taking bribes to hand out city trucking business. He is described as a "low level" political operative.

He got is nickname by stealing quarters from the Illinois Tollway Authority in 1992 -- $4 million worth.

First, let us consider that. If he did, indeed, take his ill gotten gain in quarters, we are talking about 16 million of those little shiny George Washingtons. By rough estimate, they would weigh 25 tons, and end to end, would stretch more than 240 miles -- or in a square, would be a bit over 100,000 square feet. Granted, he was running an armored truck service at the time, but still ...

Is it possible for the Tollway folks to lose $4 million dollars in coins and not notice. Oh! We're taking about a government agency. Perhaps taxpayers should just be thankful "Quarters" didn't take the dimes and nickels, too -- besides John "Loose Change" Boyle lacks a certain ring. One wonders how he could deposit all those coins without raising questions from the bank. Chicago is full of such mysteries.

What is funny, but not really, is the fact that after being caught and spending some time in taxpayer funded confinement, he returned to the public payroll -- running those hired trucks for the city. That operation is what now landed him some serious hard time.

Of course, Boyle did make some restitution to the taxpayers for his past misdeeds. Seems the judge ordered him to repay $2 million of his booty back to the citizens (nice discount). At the time of his most recent arrest, fifteen years later, he had already paid off a whopping $720.

As they say in mob circles, "Quarters" is a stand up guy. He refuses to cooperate with prosecutors. He is not one to (excuse the expression) "drop a dime" on his buddies or bosses. Maybe it was out of respect for Mayor Daley, who once publicly stated that saw no problem with convicted felon Boyle being hired by the city -- a show of support Hizzoner later retracted when it was brought to his attention just how incredibly stupid his statement was.

Of course his silence may also have been because, as a stool pigeon singing like a canary, he could wind up with his goose cooked like a dead duck.

Despite his criminal propensities, "Quarters" is a bit of a Robin Hood in the old neighborhood. He forks out money for charity and to folks in need. He gets "paid" for providing city services, like getting trees removed, and getting things fixed, like curbs, street lights and traffic tickets. "I tried to help my friends, but I broke the law," he laments.

Just so you fully understand how bizarre Chicago corruption can be, there is a side bar to this story. Seems that Boyle's Fire Lieutenant brother, Jeff, has been charged with setting a number of arson fires. In his own defense, Jeff claims his rather schizoid avocation was due to stress over his bother's problems. Sure ... that makes sense. I well understand, having had my own ne'r-d0-good brother prone to criminal behavior. Very stressful. And how well I recall getting an explicable urges to burn down property for insurance premiums just thinking about all the trouble my bro caused.

Unlike his brother, Jeff did not get a nickname in honor of his calling, like "sparks" or "flamer" (hmmm ... maybe just sparks). I guess Jeff was just trying to help friends, too -- and broke the law. Those Boyle boys -- real stand up guys.

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