Former Chicago Alderman Ed Burke found guilty on multiple counts in federal corruption case

Friday, December 22, 2023
Ed Burke found guilty on multiple counts in fed corruption case
Former Chicago Alderman Ed Burke was found guilty on multiple counts in his federal corruption case; Charles Cui was also found guilty.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Former Chicago Alderman Ed Burke was found guilty of all counts except for one in his federal corruption case Thursday.

The former Chicago alderman faced 14 counts, including racketeering, bribery and attempted extortion.

The case against the once-most powerful member of the Chicago City Council centered around him using his public position for private gain.

"Burke has his hand out for money. He tied the giving of official action by him to the giving of money in 3 different corrupt episodes," said US Attorney Morris Pasqual.

Burke and Peter Andrews were in the packed courtroom Thursday. Andrews was hospitalized for an unknown illness Tuesday. Andrews is co-defendant and a former 14th Ward aide for Burke.

Andrews was found not guilty of all his charges.

Charles Cui was present virtually because he is "ill." Cui was found guilty of all counts.

Former alderman Ed Burke is the newest member of Chicago's political Hall of Shame after he was convicted of racketeering and corruption charges.

Burke's wife, Anne, and their two daughters and other family members were also present.

As the verdict was read, Burke had his chin on his folded hands, his gold watch glinting in the courtroom lighting. He was staring toward the front of the courtroom. His family had their heads hung behind him.

Burke nodded slowly as the jury was polled, with a deep frown on his face.

Burke's wife stepped forward and put her arm on her husband's back. They leaned together, and he kissed her on the cheek.

Burke appeared to be deep in thought, stunned by the verdict. He left court in a crush of reporters and arrived back at his Southwest Side home shortly after 4 p.m. Burke will next be due in court for post-trial hearings in February and March. His sentencing is set for June 19. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years.

Burke attempted to extort money from the Field Museum for the benefit of a close family friend. In another scheme, Burke attempted to extort the owners of a Burger King in his 14th Ward to steer tax appeal business to his private law firm.

But the heart of the government's case centered around the Old Post Office. He was found guilty of using his public position to shake down the Old Post developers to use his law firm. Former alderman-turned-government mole Danny Solis secretly recorded Burke several times discussing the scheme.

The jury, made up of nine women and three men, deliberated for 23 hours before reaching a verdict.

Legal experts have said the case was a complicated one to figure out because there were three defendants and a mountain of evidence. In addition, Burke faced racketeering charges, which former Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy DePodesta said could be the most challenging for jurors.

When Burke obtained his law degree from DePaul University in 1968, federal racketeering laws hadn't even been put in place. Thursday afternoon the laws intended to take down Chicago Outfit bosses and America's top hoodlums have toppled a man long thought to be untouchable.

As Burke ran the finance committee like a king, dozens of his city council colleagues were arrested, prosecuted and jailed for corruption. Burke went unscathed until November 2018, when the FBI raided his office.

It then became clear that federal agents had much more on Burke than previously thought.

The jury was given over 350 pages of jury instructions on Monday, along with evidence that included close to 40 witnesses and over 100 recordings.

Ed Burke was convicted in federal court largely based on secret recordings made by former adlerman Danny Solis. Solis also made recordings at the center of Mike Madigan's 2024 tria

Hundreds of the videos were covertly recorded by Solis, but his primary target was longtime Illinois speaker of the house and Democratic powermaster Michael Madigan.

Madigan is scheduled for trial in Chicago in April. With Burke's fall, Madigan knows a jury fully believed Solis and trusted what they heard on his tapes.

In all, there were 19 different counts that applied to Burke, Andrews and co-defendant Cui.

Cui's sentencing date is June 17. Andrews has been dismissed.

In a statement, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said, "Elected officials are responsible for serving with honesty and integrity, with a moral responsibility to their constituents to uphold and abide by the law. In the case that they fail to do so, it is imperative that they are held accountable. That is what the jury decided today."

Former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot released a statement, saying:

"With this jury's verdict, Ed Burke should rightfully be remembered as a man who elevated personal ambition and greed over doing the people's work.

"Along the way, Burke has had many, many enablers: the pernicious practice of aldermanic prerogative which, despite efforts to eliminate it, persists to this day, especially in zoning and development decisions. The other elected officials who, over the years, looked the other way as Burke systematically monetized the Finance Committee for his own personal benefit. And the party who gave Burke control over judicial nominations, so that decades of jurists became beholden to him.

"But like many before who feasted on their gluttonous power, Burke was felled because this total lack of accountability made him foolishly think he was invincible. So he grossly overplayed his hand. He dug his own grave and jumped in.

"Only time will tell if the lessons of Ed Burke's ascent and spectacular fall will lead to desperately needed reforms begun, but not nearly finished, around transparency and accountability. But meanwhile, with this verdict, rendered by a jury of his peers, the tyranny of Ed Burke is over. I like to think somewhere, Harold is smiling."