Segal Now Charged With Seeking Special Regulatory Treatment

March 1, 2004

Michael Segal, the president and CEO of Chicago-based Near North National Group, was already under federal indictment of 17 counts of fraud and racketeering. Now federal prosecutors in the U.S. District Court of Northern Illinois have added 11 more fraud counts to the table, accusing the former owner of Near North Insurance Brokerage of asking former Illinois Gov. George H. Ryan to intervene on his behalf with the state’s insurance deparment.

Segal, alleged to have deep political connections within city and state government, has pleaded innocent to all the charges and is scheduled to go on trial April 19.

In the latest version of the government’s indictment, Segal is accused of “attempting to apply improper political pressure to regulators at the Illinois Department of Insurance by causing the governor of the State of Illinois to personally contact the director of the Illinois Department of Insurance,” Nathaniel A. Shapo, now a lawyer with Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal in Chicago and a professor at the University Chicago’s law school.

The purpose of the contact, prosecutors allege, was “on behalf of Near North and Michael Segal in an effort to insure [sic] that no regulatory action detrimental to Near North Insurance Brokerage would occur.”

Shapo, when contacted by a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, had no comment on the situation.

Segal, accused of illegally misappropriating more than $20 million from his firm’s broker trust fund from 1990 through 2002, has repeatedly maintained that were there any problems with his accounting the insurance department would have spotted it. Department spokespeople have refuted the claim, arguing that brokers are only closely audited when complaints are brought to their attention.

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