Eric Holder, President-elect Obama's designate for Attorney General, neglected to reveal to the Senate Judiciary Committee that in 2004 he had been selected by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich as a "special investigator to the Illinois Gaming Board" in connection with its controversial vote to issue a casino license to the town of Rosemont whose well-entrenched mayor, Donald Stephens, was an alleged mob associate.
The Gaming Board voted to issue the license over the strident objections of staff, and its "chief investigator in 2004 said the timing of Blagojevich's appointment of Holder raised the staff's suspicions":
"The concern was Holder had a bias to do whatever Blagojevich wanted, which was to give the casino to Rosemont," said Jim Wagner, who was a top Chicago FBI agent before he joined the Gaming Board, from which he retired in December 2005. "We all believed the only reason Holder was coming in was to fashion an investigation that would manipulate the casino into Rosemont."
Convicted racketeer Tony Rezko, a Blagojevich and Obama fundraiser, "had held an option to lease a hotel site next to the proposed casino site in Rosemont."
In the end Holder's role became a moot point: "The board -- this time listening to its staff's concerns -- refused to hire him, and Blagojevich on May 18, 2004, said he was scrapping Holder's probe." And then the previously awarded casino license to Rosemont was revoked.
At a 2005 revocation hearing an FBI agent testified that on May 29, 1999 Mayor Donald Stephens "met with five high-ranking organized crime figures to discuss what control the mob would have over contracts at the casino":
Sitting with Stephens at Armand's restaurant in Elmwood Park were reputed mob leader Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, who is being sought by U.S. officials; John "No Nose" DiFronzo; his brother Peter; Joe "The Builder" Andriacchi; and Rudy Fratto, among others, said John Mallul, head of the FBI's organized crime unit in Chicago.
Mayor Donald Stephens died in April 2007, and been replaced by his son, Bradley, and in September 2007 Joey "The Clown" Lombardo was convicted for ten murders in the so-called Family Secrets trial.
Last month the Gaming Board once again selected Rosemont -- over the objections of the Chicago Crime Commission and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan -- as one of three towns in the running for the casino license, and it still is deliberating on the final decision.