Nicolas Blase, mayor of north suburban Niles, Ill. for the last 45 years, was arrested by federal agents this week as a result of a federal corruption investigation, officials said.
Blase was arrested as he left his home Thursday morning and was scheduled to appear in court later, according to the U.S. attorney’s office spokesman Randall Samborn.
Samborn said full details including the charges against Blase would be announced later.
A published report this week said that documents that became public but which were later resealed showed agents had raided an insurance agency owned by Blase friend Ralph Weiner.
The report in the Chicago Tribune said the FBI was investigating a report that Blase took bribes from the insurance agency in exchange for pressuring businesses to buy its policies.
The 77-year-old Blase denied any wrongdoing and called the allegation “crazy.” He told the newspaper he steered business to Weiner “because I liked the guy.”
According to the court documents, Blase threatened to withhold liquor licenses and business licenses from restaurant owners unless they bought insurance from Weiner’s agency.
Weiner paid “significant amounts of bribes” to Blase in return, the documents said. They said his agency paid $280,000 to a shell company over six years leading up to April 2003.
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