Lavdim Memisovski, Former Cook County Assessor, Admits Helping Cut $1 Million in Taxes in Exchange for Home Improvements

A longtime former employee of the Cook County Assessor’s office agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors Thursday when he admitted helping reduce taxes on certain Cook County properties by at least $1 million in exchange for benefits such as home improvements.

Lavdim Memisovski, 43, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy for conduct that occurred between 2016 and July 2018, under then-counsel Joe Berrios, who had previously been a target of federal authorities.

Berríos could not be reached for comment.

On Thursday, a separate hearing in federal court addressed the pending case against his son-in-law, businessman James T. Weiss.

ADVERTISEMENT

In his guilty plea, Memisovski admitted that his scheme involved other employees of the Cook County Assessor’s office.

Memisovski worked in the office as the leader of a commercial group, evaluating values ​​for commercial properties and reviewing your property tax appeals.

Although federal sentencing guidelines call for a five-year prison sentence for Memisovski, prosecutors have agreed to recommend parole if they are satisfied with his cooperation. His sentencing hearing has not been scheduled.

Prosecutors charged Memisovski last month with conspiring with others to accept home improvement materials and services, jewelry, meals, sporting event tickets and other items as rewards for lowering the assessed values ​​of certain Cook County properties.

Property assessments are a key factor in calculating property tax bills.

Memisovski was charged in a four-page document known as information, indicating his likely intent to plead guilty. The slightly detailed document noted that on June 2, 2017, Memisovski called someone to confirm that the person would install sprinklers in Memisovski’s home. The person he called was not listed on the document.

But Memisovski’s 22-page plea agreement offers more detail. He said he agreed to accept benefits from two unidentified people and their companies, knowing they wanted him to lower the appraised values ​​of properties, including certain “family properties.”

He said Memisovski made sure appeals for those properties were sent to him, extended the deadlines for filing appeals and lowered the appraised values ​​of those properties, leading to a tax break of at least $1 million.

In exchange, those unidentified individuals provided home improvements to the Memisovski residence that included a concrete pad, decking materials, use of dumpsters, fascia and soffit, a fence, a gas line, headers for a of sprinklers, windows and labor.

The Chicago Sun-Times last year revealed a similar situation at the Cook County Board of Review. The FBI had been investigating a Board of Review employee who allegedly used his position to lower property appraisals in exchange for thousands of dollars in cash bribes, according to a federal court affidavit.

No criminal charges appear to have been filed as a result of that investigation. The Board of Review hired high-profile law firm Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP to investigate the allegations, but the results of that probe have not been released.

In a separate hearing Thursday, US District Judge Steven Seeger denied a motion to suppress statements made by Weiss during a lengthy interview with FBI agents who stopped her car in Maywood in 2019 with a warrant to search her cellphone.

Weiss still faces charges in the bribery case that ended the career of former state Rep. Luis Arroyo. Seeger sentenced Arroyo to nearly five years in prison earlier this year.

According to a 50-page transcript of the interview referenced by the judge, officers repeatedly told Weiss that the interview was voluntary, with Weiss telling them multiple times that he wanted to cooperate because he “had nothing to hide” and in a He said at the time that he “could have counseled”.

“I have, like, seven attorneys on retainer,” Weiss said, according to the transcript.

Weiss’s attorneys ended up asking the judge for time to meet with their client before setting a trial date.