VIENNA, Ill. (AP) – A bedraggled John Rendleman II exited the St. Nicholas Hotel in downtown Springfield with the last bundle of a stunning find when he noticed his car had been towed.
Initially frantic, the university chancellor took a breath and then a cab to the city’s tow lot. Rendleman’s son, John Rendleman III, recalls his father’s bemusement at the teenage attendant who gleefully demanded $20 – to retrieve a car stuffed with nearly $800,000 in cash.
Rendleman had gone to the St. Nicholas to clean out the suite of Secretary of State Paul Powell, who unexpectedly died 50 years ago, on Oct. 10, 1970, leaving behind the most notorious, unsolved political corruption mystery in Illinois history.
The “Shoebox Scandal,” so-named because of some of the receptacles holding the money, including a Marshall Field & Co. Christmas box, shocked the state. There was $750,000 in the hotel and at least $50,000 in Powell’s Capitol office. Subsequent investigations led