Photo: Juan Ochoa
The campaign to lead the largely Hispanic Chicago suburb of Cicero got tougher Tuesday with the filing of a lawsuit for intimidation and harassment by Latino candidate Juan Ochoa against the incumbent town president.
“I’m a war veteran and I won’t allow the corrupt administration of Larry Dominick to intimidate me or defraud Cicero’s voters,” Ochoa told Efe.
The businessman, with the backing of Congressman Luis Gutierrez, whose district includes Cicero, said the suit was filed at Cook County Circuit Court and seeks $1 million in compensation.
His attorney, Frank Avila, said that Dominick, town officials and the Cicero Voters Alliance “have launched an extensive crusade” of harassment and intimidation to drive Ochoa out of the race.
Dominick’s spokesman Ray Hanania told the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday that the suit “is a form of political harassment” and the Ochoa party is “trying to intimidate us.”
According to documents presented in court, the conflict began in October when the political machine run by Dominick, in power since 2005 and seeking reelection, distributed leaflets falsely associating Ochoa and Rep. Gutierrez with members of the Latin Kings gang.
The lawsuit mentions an incident that occurred last month, when a member of the Ochoa campaign was accused of sexual threats by one of Dominick’s secretaries.
“The 55-year-old man committed no aggression, but was detained by some 10 Cicero cops and put in jail. In a matter of hours his name and photograph were released by the municipal press secretary, who also does public relations work for the Cicero Voters Alliance,” Ochoa said.
The suit also said that Ochoa’s campaign headquarters and his home have been watched by town officials in public vehicles in an attempt at intimidation.
The political team of the town president has also “tried to split the Hispanic vote by putting other Hispanic candidates on the ballot” the lawsuit said, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.
One such candidate is identified as Rupero Deloera, 29, a member of the Cicero Voters Alliance and a former city employee without experience in politics or community activities.
All but 6,000 of the town’s 27,000 registered voters are Latinos.