ComEd Four trial: Former ComEd executive and prosecution's star witness Fidel Marquez testifies

Michelle Gallardo Image
Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Prosecution's star witness testifies in ComEd Four trial
Former ComEd executive Fidel Marquez took the stand Monday in the bribery trial of the ComEd Four.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Former ComEd executive Fidel Marquez took the stand Monday in the bribery trial of the "ComEd Four."

Prosecutors kicked off the third week of the ComEd trial with who may prove to be the government's star witness as they try to prove that the utility company engaged in a conspiracy to bribe former House Speaker Michael Madigan. That witness is not just a former ComEd executive, but also one who already pleaded guilty in exchange for his cooperation and testimony.

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When Fidel Marquez took the stand in the "ComEd Four" trial Monday afternoon, he did so, not as a household name, but a critical figure in the government's investigation. Without his help, given in exchange for what Marquez hopes will be a reduced sentence, this may very well have been the "ComEd Five" trial instead.

"Did you break the law during your employment at ComEd?" asked assistant U.S attorney Amarjeet Bhachu.

"Yes," said Marquez.

"What crime did you commit?" asked Bhachu.

"I committed the crime of conspiracy to corruptly influence and reward Michael Madigan," responded Marquez.

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ComEd's Senior VP of Governmental and External Affairs from 2012 to 2019, Marquez took over as the company's chief internal lobbyist following defendant John Hooker's retirement.

On the stand Monday, he testified that when FBI agents came to his mother's home in January of 2019 and confronted him with the evidence they had against him, Marquez agreed to cooperate with the government, recording his conversations with defendants Anne Pramagiore, Michael McClain, John Hooker and Jay Doherty over the next several months.

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Those conversations, many of which are expected to be played for the jury over the next couple of days, are expected to reveal the hiring of several Madigan associates as subcontractors for ComEd for little to no-work jobs. Those associates include: former 13th Ward Alderman Frank Olivo. former 23rd Ward Alderman Mike Zalewski, former 13th Ward Precinct Captains Ray Nice and Ed Moody, and former State Representative Eddie Acevedo.

The hirings, said to be worth around $1.3 million, lie at the heart of the bribery accusations against the ComEd Four, who are alleged to have engaged in a conspiracy to bribe Madigan in order to gain legislation favorable to the company between 2011 and 2019.

"Did you ever discuss what if any work they were doing?" Bhachu asked.

"No," said Marquez, adding "I didn't expect for them to be doing any work for ComEd....I knew they were brought on as a favor to Michael Madigan."

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Marquez said on the stand he would place a high priority on requests deemed to be coming from Madigan out of a desire to keep him on the company's side.

The more explosive tapes are expected to be played Tuesday. Already there has been some attempt by defense attorneys to keep part of them out. So far, the judge has only agreed to a minor edit in one of those tapes.