Ed Burke Chicago trial: Former ald. shook down Burger King owner seeking permit, witness says

Former Alderman Ed Burke was trying to get businessman's property tax business, witness said

Sarah Schulte Image
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
Former Ald. Burke shook down Burger King owner seeking permit: witness
As the Ed Burke trial continues, a SW Side Burger King owner testified that the former Chicago alderman shook him down while he was seeking a permit.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Southwest Side Burger King was at the center of Tuesday's testimony in former Chicago Alderman Ed Burke's federal corruption trial at the Dirksen Federal Building.

The outdated Burger King in Burke's ward desperately needed a remodel. Its owner planned a renovation in 2017, and, in the process of doing so, was allegedly shaken down by Burke.

Houston-based businessman Shoukat Dhanani owns dozens of Burger Kings in the Chicago area.

As seen on his website, Dhanani is the CEO of a family-owned business that owns close to 800 fast food restaurants nationwide.

Dhanani testified Tuesday he met with Burke, hoping the then-alderman would sign off on a permit for the remodel.

ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington discusses the former Chicago alderman's trial.

During a lunch meeting paid for by Burke at Beverly Country Club, Burke brought up his tax law firm and how successful it had been in getting high-profile individuals' property taxes reduced.

Dhanani told jurors, "My understanding is I thought maybe he wanted us to give him the property tax business."

Dhanani went on to say, "I thought it might make it easier for us to get our permits for our Burger King."

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What Dhanani did not know is that a few weeks earlier, Burke had already inquired about who did Dhanani's company property tax appeal work.

Burke said on a FBI-recorded call played in court, "I'd also like to get some of his law business."

A few months later, Burke and co-defendant, Pete Andrews, who was Burke's chief of staff, decided to shut the Burger King remodel down because it lacked a proper driveway permit.

Dhanani testified, "My gut feeling was maybe since I had not reached out about property tax business, maybe that is why it was shut down."

Dhanani had another meeting with Burke, where the powerful aldermen mentioned his law firm again.

Ultimately, Dhanani decided to use Burke's law firm.

He told jurors he hoped it would make the remodeling job easier.

Dhanani said the restaurant was losing money because of the delay.

The city allowed the rehab project to resume, and Burke asked Dhanani for his firm to do property tax work for all 150 Burger Kings the Dhanani Group owns in the Chicago area.