CHICAGO (WLS) -- A federal judge denied a motion for a mistrial Thursday in former Chicago Alderman Ed Burke's corruption case.
Burke's attorney was seeking a mistrial because a witness on the stand referred to the "Chicago way of doing business" as being "corrupt."
Burke's lawyers objected, and it was stricken from the record.
The judge made the decision on the mistrial motion Thursday morning, saying the prosecutors' questioning that led to the witness' comment was not intentional due to the Old Post Office part of the trial being moved up.
That portion of the trial was moved up because the co-defendant's attorney has COVID.
Prosecutors played a flurry of secretly recorded tapes, in which Burke is heard making reference to the now-famous quote about "landing the tuna."
The tuna comment is a reference to the tax appeals business Burke was trying to get from a developer who sought his help on the Old Post Office project.
If we land the tuna there certainly will be a day of accounting, you can count on it.
Burke is accused of using his position as alderman and chairman of the Finance Committee to pressure developers into hiring his private law firm.
Back in 2017 Burke was helping the developers of the Old Post Office smooth the way with Amtrak and the city and was pushing to land their potentially lucrative tax appeal business for his law firm.
Former alderman Danny Solis, a government mole in this case secretly recorded a phone call in May of 2017 in which Burke is heard referencing that deal, saying to Solis, "If we land the tuna there certainly will be a day of accounting, you can count on it."
Burke sat and intensely listened to prosecutors lay out a corruption case against him on Wednesday. Much of the evidence used against Burke includes his own words.
Some evidence included grainy video shot from a wire Solis was wearing on his chest.
Both men were trying to convince the developer of the massive Old Post Office renovation project to use Burke's firm, Klafer & Burke. Located above the Eisenhower Expressway, the Old Post Office sits on four acres of land, and is 2.5 million square feet.
In August of 2016, the feds recorded Burke and Solis talking about the Old Post Office, which was a massive $600 million renovation project.
In the recording, Burke is heard telling Solis to "recommend the good firm of Klafter & Burke to do the tax work" to the developer.
Solis, who was the chair of the city's Zoning Committee, agreed to mention Burke's firm, which does commercial property tax appeals.
Following a meeting with the developer, Solis discussed with Burke his role as a possible consultant to "tee up" more developers to use his firm.
Hey, you're not gonna get in any trouble, and I'm certainly not gonna get in any trouble at this stage of the game
Burke said to Solis, "Hey, you're not gonna get in any trouble, and I'm certainly not gonna get in any trouble at this stage of the game."
Prosecutors also allege Burke illegally offered Solis a reward for any business he could bring his firm.
"Hey, you know I'm of the belief that that if you get help from somebody to get some work, that they're entitled to share it, and just up to us to figure out a way can be done so that there's no pitfalls, really. And this wouldn't be the first time, won't be the last time. I'm a believer in sharing," Burke can be heard saying on a recording.
While Burke was unable to secure the tax appeals business from 601 W, the company renovating the Old Post Office, an executive for the firm Harry Skydell told Solis in another secretly recorded phone call to convey to Burke, "We're selling, we're buying, we like the city... We want to work with him...Definitely we'll have him in mind, we'll do the right thing."
The prosecutors later played a recording from 2018 where Skydell talked to Burke about another building they were buying, saying he planned to give Burke's law firm they're quote "maiden voyage tax business." Burke thanked him and promised they would do a good job.
The 79-year-old Burke faces 14 counts of racketeering, bribery and extortion. Prosecutors are laying out four different episodes Burke is involved with, including the Old Post Office.
Burke is accused of withholding his help on a tax increment financing issue until the developers used Klafer & Burke. Up until then, Burke wanted to make developer happy.
When there was a water issue, Burke intervened. Former Water Commissioner Barrett Murphy told jurors with Burke involved, there was "heat" coming from City Hall to get the building back on the tax rolls. Murphy described Burke as "extremely intimidating."