Former 22nd Ward Ald. Ricardo Muñoz pleaded guilty on Monday to spending cash from a political fund on personal items such as sports tickets, meals and travel.
Muñoz, 56, who retired in 2019, appeared in court in person before U.S. District Judge John F. Kness and pleaded to wire fraud and money laundering. He was indicted in April on 15 counts related to the conduct.
Federal prosecutors alleged Muñoz stole from a political action committee formed by the Chicago Progressive Reform Caucus, where he served as chairman and performed the duties of its treasurer. Prosecutors accused him of moving funds from the CPRC into another fund he controlled, Citizens for Muñoz, and then into his personal checking account.
Among the personal items purchased with the funds were $169 for tickets to a Los Angeles Kings hockey game, $265 for a room at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in LA and another $160 spent on items at Lover’s Lane in West Dundee, the charges alleged.
He also bought jewelry, cuff links, women’s clothing, three Apple iPhones and accessories, aerial sightseeing trips and sky diving excursions, according to the indictment.
Muñoz also transferred $16,000 to pay college tuition for an unidentified person, according to the charges.
He tried to hide the fraud by lying to the Illinois State Board of Elections and staff members and contractors about the legitimacy of the expenditures and cutting off others’ access to the CPRC fund to conceal the low balances, the indictment said.
Muñoz first became alderman in 1993 when he was appointed by former Mayor Richard M. Daley, then the youngest member of the City Council.
In 2019, Muñoz was charged and acquitted of battering his wife. He has said he has struggled with alcoholism.