State

Ex-forest preserve employee charged with bribery

CHICAGO — A former employee for the Forest Preserve District of Cook County has been charged with bribery for allegedly accepting $10,000 in kickbacks to steer business to a contractor.

Prosecutors announced the two counts of federal bribery against 52-year-old Joseph Mollica of Elmwood Park on Thursday.

A complaint cites an informant as telling Mollica as he counted out a $4,000 bribe, "(That's) 4,000 four-thousand, my little buddy, and lunch is on you (Mollica)." The two then walked into a restaurant. Prosecutors say the contractor was cooperating with an FBI sting.

Mollica worked as an assistant engineer for the agency and recently resigned.

Messages left for Mollica's attorney, Raymond J. Smith, weren't immediately returned Thursday.

Mollica's arraignment is Wednesday in Chicago federal court. A bribery conviction carries a maximum 10-year prison term.

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