ComEd Four trial: Defense attorneys grill government informant Fidel Marquez

Michelle Gallardo Image
Wednesday, March 29, 2023
ComEd Four trial: Defense attorneys grill prosecution's star witness
In the ComEd Four trial, defense attorneys finally got their chance Wednesday to cross-examine government informant Fidel Marquez.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Defense attorneys finally got their chance Wednesday to cross-examine government informant Fidel Marquez in the "ComEd Four" trial.

The defense team grilled him as they try to discredit the former ComEd executive whose testimony over the last three days has painted a picture of a company that would do nearly anything to keep former House Speaker Mike Madigan happy.

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

"Hi. Hope you're sitting down," began an email sent by defendant Michael McClain to a ComEd employee on August 10, 2016, as he sets up to deliver a bombshell.

"Our friend called yesterday, and asked if I would increase the request from Exelon/ComEd from $250K to three times what they did last year, so it would be close to $450K," McClain wrote.

Testifying on the stand for a third straight day, Marquez, ComEd's former chief internal lobbyist turned government informant, said the email was an indirect request from Michael Madigan, who sought a dramatic increase in the amount of money raised by the utility during their annual fundraiser for the state's Democratic Party.

The request came just as ComEd was trying to get a major piece of legislation through the General Assembly, and was, according to Marquez's testimony, just one of dozens of requests big and small McClain made over the years on behalf of Madigan.

"It's a favor," McClain is heard saying on undercover video. "If the IRS ever comes and says, 'who are these guys and what do they do?' Doherty has to prove it."

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

These favors, say prosecutors, were costing ComEd hundreds of thousands of dollars a year as the utility added Madigan's political cronies to the payroll. Some of those discussions were caught on tape in early 2019 after Marquez became a government informant.

"My bottom line advice would be, 'If it ain't broke don't fix it' with those guys," Jay Doherty is heard saying in an undercover video.

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

Whether Marquez's testimony results in a reduced sentence for the ComEd executive remains to be seen. On cross-examination Wednesday afternoon, defense attorneys sought to discredit Marquez.

Anne Pramaggiore's attorney Scott Lassar asked if he believed he was doing something illegal prior to being approached by the FBI.

"You told the FBI you were not aware of any action by Madigan to defeat or advance a bill ComEd either opposed or supported?" Lassar asked.

"That is what this says, and I may have said that at that time," said Marquez.

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

"After seven years being the head of legislative affairs at ComEd you did not believe that ComEd had bribed Mike Madigan, did you?" asked Lassar.

"Corrrect," answered Marquez

Defense attorneys continued the tack they've used with prior witnesses, insisting that the only thing their clients are guilty of is of engaging in run-of-the-mill legal lobbying.