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Giannoulias faces more woes in race

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(AP photo)
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias makes a key Thursday while visiting with small business owners at Glavin Security Specialists in Chicago. Giannoulias spoke of the need for government support of small businesses across the country during difficult economic times.

CHICAGO – Democrat candidate Alexi Giannoulias faced a new political hassle in his bid for President Obama’s former Senate seat after a major contributor was arrested Thursday on charges of defrauding banks by writing bad checks.

Nick Giannis, owner of the Boston Blackie’s restaurant chain, was accused of engaging in a check-kiting scheme that cost two banks about $2 million.

He was accused of using the Chicago bank owned by Giannoulias’ family and other banks in the scheme. Prosecutors did not accuse Broadway Bank of wrongdoing.

Prosecutors said Giannis was arrested Thursday near Detroit while trying to flee to Canada. He is awaiting extradition. Felony theft charges also were filed against Giannis’ son Chris and another employee.

Giannis, whose chain filed for bankruptcy last year, has donated $110,000 to Giannoulias’ state campaign fund and $4,800 to his Senate bid. Giannoulias, the state treasurer, quickly said he would donate the money to charity.

His Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, said this was part of a “disturbing pattern” of reckless business relationships and questionable banking practices by Giannoulias.

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