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November 26, 2013

Is the ghost of Al Capone lurking in the hallways of Cook County (Chicago), Illinois?

Or is Dorothy Brown an astute business woman who has the good sense not to pass up a perfectly legal and ethical business deal?

First impressions fall on the side of corruption assumption. Time will tell.

Brown is Circuit Court Clerk in Cook County.

The property in question was given to Cook's husband. The couple then sold it for $100,000.

Add campaign contributions and family connections and a simple good deal suddenly turns into a racing rabbit for news hounds to chase after.

Here they go...

Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown flips free property for $100K 
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News & Better Government Assoc.) - How would you like to have a piece of property handed to you for free and then turn around and sell it for $100,000? Sound too good to be true? Not if you're one of Cook County's most powerful Democratic politicians.
FOX 32 and the Better Government Association have uncovered a complex series of property transactions involving Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown that's raising some tough questions for the veteran politician.

What makes all of this even more curious is that the property was handed over for free by one of Clerk Brown's top campaign contributors, who has family working in the clerk's office.

We would love to know how and why Dorothy Brown landed this sweetheart deal. But for now, she's not talking. Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown bolted through a crowd of lawyers, judges and politicians at a recent alumni gathering for Kent College of Law. Brown literally raced into the ladies' room to avoid talking about a small, triangular piece of property located at the intersection of Pulaski, Ogden and Cermak on Chicago's South Side.

Until recently, there was an office building on the site. Records obtained by FOX 32 and the Better Government Association show that in June of 2011, the owner of that property, wealthy businessman Narendra Patel, gave it away for free to Benton Cook III. Cook is Dorothy Brown's husband.

"It's our personal business. It has nothing to do with politics," Cook says. "It has nothing to do with the public."

According to records, one month after getting the free property, Cook added Dorothy Brown's name to the deed.

Two months after that, Brown and her husband transferred the deed to Sankofa, LLC. -- a for-profit company they run out of their South Side home.

Finally, in November 2012, Sankofa sold the property to a private developer for an even $100,000.

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