Federal case against Alderman Ed Burke includes thousands of recorded phone calls

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Ross Weinder WLS logo
Friday, December 9, 2022
Federal case against Ed Burke includes thousands of phone calls
Federal court documents reveal the government has more than 8,900 secret recordings of Alderman Ed Burke's phone conversations, from less than a one year period.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Federal prosecutors in Chicago are amassing a mountain of potential evidence in their case against Alderman Ed Burke.

It's a colossal effort against a man considered by some to be the most powerful alderman in Chicago history.

Southwest Side alderman Ed Burke has been poked and prodded by the US Department of Justice for decades and as he noted when the current investigation began in 2018 "nothing has been found."

Now, federal court documents reveal the government has more than 8,900 secret recordings of Burke phone conversations, from a less-than-one-year period, part of a titanic collection of potential evidence.

Burke has pleaded not guilty to charges of racketeering, bribery and extortion. His corruption trial is set to start less than one year from now.

"I've done nothing wrong," said Burke following his first court appearance.

Burke has been in office for almost 55 years and he is accused of using his clout to force companies doing business with the city to also hire his long-time private law firm.

In the latest federal court document from prosecutors, there are new details on what is becoming a bulging case file.

Alongside the thousands of recordings from phone taps consisting of hundreds of hours of recorded conversations are more than 200 digital discs and more than 50,000 pages of electronic records in addition to several box loads of "hard copy" paperwork.

Prosecutors also cite 16 presumably face-to-face meetings involving Burke that were covertly recorded.

This latest potential evidence being reported by the I-Team follows a gigantic previous turnover of records, recordings and documents from defrocked Chicago alderman Danny Solis who we now know has also been cooperating with the FBI against Burke and ex-House Speaker Mike Madigan.

Solis worked undercover securing hundreds of hours of taped conversations, 90 video recordings and 20,000 text messages.

Although the US Attorney is turning over the mammoth amount of material under rules of discovery, prosecutors said they don't intend to use all of it in the Burke case, instead using a typical survival of the fittest evidence approach.

A fraction of the 8,900 phone recordings in the Burke case would actually be used or heard at trial, if previous political corruption cases are a template.

Sources familiar with this case tell the I-Team that these big numbers of records and recordings are probably it in the Burke case, and that they do not expect much more of any significance to be turned over.

Burke's attorney has not responded to our message and the alderman is not running for re-election.