Owner of debt collection company pleads guilty to corruptly providing benefits to public official


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Date: October 12, 2021

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

CHICAGO — The former owner of a debt collection company pleaded guilty today to a federal criminal charge for corruptly agreeing to underwrite certain expenses for a special event hosted by the former Cook County Circuit Court Clerk.

Donald Donagher, Jr. of Harrisburg, Pa., pleaded guilty to one count of corruptly giving something of value to reward a public official. U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee set sentencing for January 21, 2022.

Donagher was a former owner and Chief Executive Officer of Harrisburg, Pa.-based Penn Credit Corporation, which in 2014 had a non-exclusive contract with Cook County to perform debt collection work. Donagher admitted in a plea agreement that in March 2014 he agreed to underwrite certain expenses for a Women's History Month Celebration hosted by the Circuit Court of Cook County. The expenses included the payment of plaques that were presented to judges honored at the event. Donagher admitted that he underwrote the expenses in an effort to corruptly reward the Clerk of the Circuit Court for her perceived favorable treatment with respect to the awarding of debt collection work to Penn Credit.

Relatedly, the criminal investigation of Penn Credit was resolved today with a deferred prosecution agreement under which Penn Credit admitted to engaging in the Cook County corrupt scheme at the direction of Donagher. Under the agreement, the government will defer prosecution of Penn Credit for two years and then seek to dismiss a conspiracy charge against it if the company abides by certain conditions, to include taking remedial measures to enhance its ethics and compliance programs and continuing to cooperate with the government with respect to any matter relating to this conduct. The deferred prosecution agreement, which was approved today by the U.S. District Court, also requires Penn Credit to pay a monetary penalty of $225,000.

Donagher's plea agreement and Penn Credit's deferred prosecution agreement were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Justin Campbell, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago; Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI; and Patrick M. Blanchard, Cook County Inspector General. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher V. Parente.