Closing arguments begin in corruption trial of former Chicago Ald. Ed Burke

Thursday, December 14, 2023
Closing arguments begin in Ed Burke Chicago trial
Closing arguments began Wednesday for the federal corruption trial of former Chicago Alderman Ed Burke.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Closing arguments are now underway in the corruption trial of former Chicago alderman Ed Burke.

The prosecution painted Burke as "powerful and corrupt" in their closing statements, as the former alderman listened at times with his arms crossed.

After close to 40 witnesses, six weeks of testimony and about 100 recordings later, closing arguments began in the trial at the Dirksen Federal Building in downtown Chicago.

"For the past three weeks, you've heard about a pattern of unlawful activity, standing at the center of that steady drum beat of unlawful activity is this man Edward Burke," Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane MacArthur told the jury.

Burke faces racketeering, bribery and extortion charges involving four different schemes.

He is accused of threatening to block a Field Museum fee increase after it dropped the ball on an internship application for a close friend's daughter. Jurors heard a phone call between Burke and a Field Museum official.

"I'm sure I know what you want to do, because if the chairman of the Committee on Finance calls the president of the Park Board, your proposal is going nowhere," Burke said in the recording.

The former chairman of the city's Finance Committee was accused of using his power as a public official for personal gain to "satisfy his own greed to line his pockets," MacArthur argued.

Prosecutors said Burke and his co-defendant and former aide, Pete Andrews, used a driveway permit issue to shut down a Burger King renovation in his ward while Burke was trying to convince the wealthy fast food restaurant owners to use his private law firm for tax appeal work.

Burke is also accused of shaking down the developers of the Old Post Office project for the same purpose...

"He zeroed in on people with money to get tax business," MacArthur said.

The Old Post Office scheme is the one where former aldermen turned government Danny Solis secretly recorded Burke.

"These actions flipped our system from right to wrong, from legal to illegal, from above board to thoroughly corrupt," MacArthur said.

The defense filed a motion Wednesday to dismiss some of the charges against the former powerful lawmaker.

They have argued Burke never demanded anything in exchange for an official act, and never received a penny in any of the alleged schemes.

Closing arguments continue Thursday.