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Chicago Teamster Boss Pleads Innocent, May Face 45 Years In Prison If Found Guilty

Indicted for extortion, Chicago Mayor Emanuel’s powerful Teamster boss-ally is pleading innocent, but could spend the rest of his life in prison.

CHICAGO—Soon-to-be-retired Chicago Teamster boss, John Coli Sr., who was indicted earlier this month for allegedly extorting $100,000 from a Chicago business in exchange for not striking the business has pled not guilty, according to press reports.

The politically powerful president of a Teamsters union local pleaded not guilty Friday to charges he threatened a local business with a strike unless he was paid $100,000 a year.

John Coli Sr., 57, who was one of the first labor leaders to back Rahm Emanuel in 2010 when Emanuel announced he would run for mayor of Chicago, was charged July 12 with one count of attempted extortion and five counts of demanding and accepting prohibited payment as a union official, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois.

If convicted on all charges, Coli could face 45 years in prison.

Coli announced his retirement the same day federal prosecutors announced the indictment.

Two days prior to the announcements, Coli had installed a hand-picked successor, Becky Strzechowski, to lead the Joint Council 25.

However, last Sunday, the Executive Board of JC 25 voted to replace her.

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