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Hits Keep Coming for Giannoulias

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Blake D. Dvorak

Not good news for the Giannoulias folks:

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The owner of the Boston Blackie's restaurant chain -- a man with strong political ties to U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias -- was charged today with bank fraud, along with the owner's son and an employee.

Boston Blackie's owner Nick Giannis, 62, his son, Chris Giannis, 38, and Boston Blackie's manager Andy Bakopoulos, 38, allegedly defrauded Charter One and Washington Mutual banks of nearly $2 million, Cook County prosecutors said.

Giannoulias' family owns Broadway Bank, one of the banks named in the court documents. The bank was not a victim of the alleged scheme, officials said.

Nick Giannis was caught at the Canadian border with his Greek passport this morning.

He and the younger men used other Chicago area banks -- including Giannoulias' family's Broadway Bank -- to carry out their "sophisticated, complex" check-kiting scheme, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said.

When pressed about whether Broadway Bank officials knew about the alleged scheme, Alvarez simply said, "These are the three we feel are responsible for this particular case."

Giannis contributed $115,000 to Citizens for Giannoulias between 2005 and 2008 alone and secured millions of dollars in mortgages with Broadway Bank, records show.
On cue, Kirk responds:

"The check-kiting scheme conducted by a top Giannoulias contributor and Broadway Bank client appears to be part of a disturbing pattern of reckless business relationships, questionable banking practices and potentially illegal activity," Congressman Kirk said.  "Alexi Giannoulias should return the massive $119,800 in Giannis campaign contributions given Giannis was caught attempting to leave U.S. jurisdiction."
I don't think there's any doubt that Giannoulias won't return the money. But those, um, reservations circulating around Democratic circles are only going to grow louder. Still on the horizon is the actual shutdown of Broadway Bank, which will be national news.

The question must be asked: Is the clock ticking on Giannoulias for Senate?

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