Illinois Mayor Charged with Insurance Fraud Steps Down

August 26, 2008

Niles, Illinois’ long-time mayor, Nicholas Blase, is stepping down after 47 years. In a statement on the village Web site, Blase, 80, said his retirement would be effective Monday, Sept. 1. The Village Board will meet Tuesday to appoint an acting mayor.

In his statement Blase said that he is tired and wants to offer the candidates for mayor of Niles the ability to run without the worry about whether he will decide to run again.

Blase has been mayor of the northern suburb of Chicago since 1961 and prides himself on the tax-supported services for village residents such as a free Pace shuttle bus.

Blases’ decision to bow out as mayor comes as he prepares to go to trial in September on federal charges that he took more than $420,000 in kickbacks for steering local businesses to buy insurance from a longtime friend’s company. Insurance Journal reported on the initial arrest in June, 2006.

Blase was arrested on federal corruption charges for allegedly using his public office for at least the last 17 years to steer local business owners to purchase insurance through an agency that paid him bribes and kickbacks from the revenue it collected from business clients in Niles. According to the arrest information Steven Weiner, president of Ralph Weiner & Associates, an insurance agency in Wheeling, Ill. will also face charges in September.

Information from the Chicago Tribune and Department of Justice contributed to this story.

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