Contractor accused of bribing Cook County assessor staffer
Alex Nitchoff is charged with conspiring to bribe a key employee handling commercial properties with home improvement goods and services, jewelry, meals and sports tickets.
A south suburban contractor involved in the public corruption case against former 34th Ward Ald. Carrie Austin now is charged in a scheme to bribe an employee of the Cook County assessor’s office.
Alex Nitchoff of Lemont is accused of conspiring to bribe a key staffer handling commercial properties with home improvement goods and services, jewelry, meals and sports tickets in exchange for property assessment reductions beginning in 2017. Such assessments are closely tied to how property taxes are calculated.
Nitchoff also offered the use of his Florida home to Lavdim “Deme” Memisovski in 2019, and asked if the then-county employee had any other house projects that needed work because, Nitchoff as he was recorded was “gonna owe ya,” according to a charging document handed down Friday.
He also faces two counts of using a cellphone to facilitate alleged acts of bribery.
“We are working with the government to resolve this matter,” his attorney, Terry Campbell, said, declining to say whether Nitchoff was cooperating against anyone else.
Companies owned by Nitchoff, 56, his late brother Constantino Nitchoff and their late father, Boris Nitchoff had done millions of dollars in construction and rehab work for the city of Chicago. Among their many private construction projects was a housing development on the Far South Side — along Honorary South Nitchoff Avenue — that’s attracted a litany of residents’ complaints.
The family’s business dealings have been the subject of numerous Chicago Sun-Times investigations.
In 2017, Memisovski was working for Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios who, before he lost in 2019 to Fritz Kaegi, was the powerful head of the Cook County Democratic Party.
Memisovski’s job was assessing values of commercial properties in Cook County and reviewing their property tax appeals. Prosecutors say that, in return for the alleged bribes, Memisovski “ensured that appeals of property assessments related to Nitchoff and his business associates were routed to himself so that he could extend deadlines for the filing of appeals and reduce assessed property values” — which led to lower taxes.
Memisovski pleaded guilty in August, admitting that other assessor’s employees were involved in his scheme, and prosecutors have agreed to recommend probation in exchange for his full cooperation. A sentencing has not yet been scheduled.
Nitchoff and his brother and father were named in a subpoena that allowed federal authorities to search Austin’s ward office in 2019.
None of them have been named in the criminal indictment that snagged her and her chief of staff, Chester Wilson, though Boris Nitchoff has been identified as one of the individuals who provided her with a sump pump and kitchen cabinets for her Roseland home as he sought her help in pushing a development through City Hall.
She has said she isn’t medically fit to stand trial and needs oxygen to walk, though federal prosecutors have accused her of exaggerating.
The longtime 34th Ward alderperson resigned this month after declining to seek reelection for the job she inherited from her husband after he died in 1994.
Boris Nitchoff died in November 2020, and Constantino Nitchoff in February 2022.
Contributing: Jon Seidel