CHICAGO — Gov. J.B. Pritzker, his wife and his brother-in-law are under a federal criminal investigation for a property tax appeal labeled by the Cook County inspector general as a "scheme to defraud taxpayers," according to a report by WBEZ-FM in Chicago.
The radio station said that a law-enforcement source familiar with the investigation confirmed to WBEZ that the probe, which has not been revealed publicly until now, began last October and remains active. There are no signs that criminal charges are imminent.
The governor’s office referred WBEZ’s questions to a lawyer representing J.B. Pritzker and his wife, and M.K. Pritzker. The lawyer, Marc Elias, denied his clients engaged in any wrongdoing.
In a review first reported in October by the Chicago Sun-Times, Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard found that family members and associates made "false representations" to the county assessor about the condition of the mansion on Chicago's Gold Coast, which sits adjacent to another Pritzker owns.
Key to Blanchard's findings was an October 2015 email in which contractors contended that M.K. Pritzker wanted to declare the mansion uninhabitable and directed that toilets be removed before a property tax reassessment.
The newspaper said that an assessor then lowered the mansion's property tax value from $6.3 million to about $1.1 million.
After the report was made public, J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat who defeated Republican Bruce Rauner in the November election, said he would repay the roughly $330,000 in refunds obtained from 2012-16.
This story will be updated.