Woman describes O'Hare shakedown - $40,000 bail for city traffic aide who allegedly sought cash

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Chicago Tribune (IL) - Thursday, May 13, 2010
Author: Dan Hinkel, Tribune reporter Tribune reporter Matthew Walberg contributed to this report.
As Mildred Martinez dug through her purse in search of the cash bribe allegedly sought by a Chicago traffic aide outside O'Hare International Airport, she had one goal in mind, she said Wednesday. She wanted to get him away from her car, so she handed over a folded $10 bill, she said.

Martinez said the traffic aide, identified by authorities as Raoul Hughes, had threatened to issue her $320 in traffic tickets Monday night if she didn't give him money. Hughes was "stuck on the door," physically intimidating her as he leaned his head into the car, Martinez said.

"He was aggressive. He would not let us go," said Martinez, 40, who lives in the city's Humboldt Park neighborhood. "I gave him the money because I was afraid."

Hughes, 48, of the 11500 block of South Morgan Street, was arrested after Martinez and her daughter, Yomari, 20, who was also in the car, reported the incident to airport authorities. While still wearing his green safety vest, Hughes appeared in the Criminal Courts Building on Wednesday to face a charge of felony official misconduct. Cook County Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil ordered him held on $40,000 bail.

The women pulled up outside Terminal 1 about 7 p.m. Monday to pick up Martinez's aunt, a Chicago resident returning from Puerto Rico, she said. Hughes waved and yelled for all the other cars to move away from the terminal, but he stopped Martinez, she said. He asked if she was married, she said.

Martinez's daughter recalled Hughes wishing her mother a happy belated Mother's Day. The topic quickly shifted away from niceties, though, both women said.

"He said, 'How would you like to go home to your husband with $320 worth of tickets?'" Mildred Martinez said.

Hughes pointed to what he said were cameras recording traffic, Yomari Martinez said. He then said Mildred Martinez could solve her problem by buying him "lunch," the women said.

"I understand why (my mother) was scared because his hands were in the car and he was aggressive with his words and actions," said Yomari Martinez, of the Portage Park neighborhood.

Mildred Martinez found a $10 bill in her purse, passed it to Hughes and drove off, she said.

Soon after, she approached another traffic aide and told her of the alleged bribe, but that aide said he couldn't "trick on" his co-worker, she said. Eventually, the women found Hughes' supervisor, who called police to arrest him, the women said. The women, who picked up the aunt shortly after they tracked down Hughes' supervisor, spent the next several hours at the police station at O'Hare, they said.

Both women said they felt they needed to turn Hughes in.

"God knows how many other people he's done this to," Mildred Martinez said.