ComEd Four trial: Secret recordings of utility exec, Springfield operative played in court

Michelle Gallardo Image
Tuesday, March 28, 2023
ComEd Four trial: Secret recordings, taped meetings played in court
The government's star witness Fidel Marquez took the stand for a second day as the U.S. attorney's office tried to make its bribery case against the ComEd Four.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- In the corruption trial of the "ComEd Four," the court heard secretly recorded conversations between a ComEd executive and a Springfield political operative.

Prosecutors also played several undercover videotaped meetings between their star witness and the "ComEd Four" in court Tuesday.

Government informant Fidel Marquez took the stand for a second day as the U.S. attorney's office tried to make its bribery case against the "ComEd Four."

RELATED | Former ComEd executive and prosecution's star witness Fidel Marquez testifies

By the spring of 2018, ComEd was paying five of Mike Madigan's political associates a combined $348,000 a year to do little to no-work jobs.

On May 16, 2018, with the FBI listening in, ComEd executive Marquez asked Madigan confidant/lobbyist Michael McClain what to pay former 23rd Ward Alderman Mike Zalewski.

RELATED | Rep. Bob Rita says ex-Speaker Mike Madigan ruled House through 'fear and intimidation'

MARQUEZ: Um. Did you get my message?

MCCLAIN: That you wanted to talk about Zalewski?

MARQUEZ: Yeah. So Anne. Anne mentioned your conversation with her about, about Mike. Um, what were you thinking numbers wise? Was there-

MCCLAIN: Five. Five.

RELATED | ComEd Four trial: Prosecutors try to connect Mike Madigan to various utility contracts, hirings

It was, according to Marquez, the playing of calls such as this one that in January of 2019 turned him into the government's informant as they tried to build a bribery case against the utility company and the "ComEd Four."

"Don't put anything in writing," McClain advised between bites of pizza at a meeting in Springfield a few weeks later.

RELATED | ComEd Four trial: Ex-legislators testify to Madigan's influence; 1st undercover recording played

Marquez was videotaping the lunch, as he did separate meetings and calls over the coming days and weeks with defendants Anne Pramaggiore, John Hooker and Jay Doherty. Meetings during which, at the direction of the FBI, he expressed concern about how to justify the money being paid to the subcontractors to the company's new CEO, Joe Dominguez.

"Do they do anything for me on a day-to-day basis? No," Jay Doherty said during a February 13th meeting. "My bottom line advice would be 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' with those guys."

RELATED | ComEd Four trial: Jury hears phone calls between ex-Speaker Mike Madigan, defendant Mike McClain

Doherty went on to tell Marquez to remind the new CEO that their money comes from Springfield. By March, the subcontractor budget had been approved.

Marquez remains on the stand and is expected to continue his testimony for a third straight day when the trial resumes Wednesday morning.