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Illinois governor has "no concerns at all" about reported federal criminal probe

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says he has "no concerns at all" about a possible federal criminal investigation into a property tax break he received on a mansion he bought in an upscale Chicago neighborhood.

Chicago radio station WBEZ reported Wednesday, citing a law enforcement source, that federal authorities launched an investigation into the tax break last October. 

CBS News has not independently confirmed the existence of the probe, which WBEZ says is also targeting Pritzker's wife and brother-in-law. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois did not immediately reply to a request for comment Wednesday.

"What I know is what you all know from the reporting that was done this week," Pritzker said during an unrelated press conference on Wednesday morning, according to The Chicago Sun Times. The governor added that any review "will show that the rules were followed."

Hillary Clinton Joins IL Gubernatorial Candidate JB Pritzker At Campaign Event
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker seen Oct. 1, 2018. Getty

"Neither the Governor nor the First Lady have been contacted by law enforcement regarding the property tax appeal," Marc E. Elias, an attorney for Pritzker, said in a statement. "We are confident that any further review of the matter will show that the appropriate rules were followed."

According to a report by The Chicago Sun Times in October 2018, an investigation by the Cook County inspector general found Pritzker bought a historic mansion next to his home in Chicago's Gold Coast and purposely let it fall into disrepair so it would be deemed "vacant and uninhabitable," allowing him to reap $331,000 in property tax breaks.

The Sun Times cited a confidential memo from Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard stating the Pritzkers purposely removed all of the home's toilets in 2015 in order to have a Cook County assessor's office lower the home's market value and thus its property tax bill. But the report also found the governor's brother-in-law and his wife's personal assistant made "false representations" on tax appeal affidavits by stating the home had been without working toilets in 2012, 2013, and 2014, resulting in $132,000 in property tax refunds.

The inspector general's report described the Pritzker's tax appeal as a "scheme to defraud" taxpayers and referenced possible violations of perjury and mail fraud, according to The Sun Times, which published the confidential memo just weeks before Illinois' hotly contested gubernatorial election.

Several Illinois governors have been embroiled in criminal investigations in the recent past. In 2010, former Gov. George Ryan was convicted of racketeering, mail fraud, tax fraud and lying to federal investigators and sent to federal prison. In 2012, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich received a 14-year prison sentence for corruption charges tied to an attempt to sell former President Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat.

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