Defense attorney of Ed Burke completes closing arguments in federal corruption trial

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Saturday, December 16, 2023
Defense wraps up closing arguments in Ed Burke trial
The defense wrapped up closing arguments Friday afternoon in the federal corruption trial of former Chicago Alderman Ed Burke.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Closing arguments wrapped up Friday afternoon in the trial of former Chicago Alderman Ed Burke.

Defense attorney Joe Duffy said Ed Burke is nothing like the person being portrayed in the courtroom as addressed the jury and wrapped up his closing argument.

Duffy left jurors with a glowing description of his client - a lifelong Chicagoan with great loves, being his family, the city of Chicago and God. Duffy said Burke amassed great knowledge of the city and "delighted" in telling stories to others about its history.

However, Duffy admitted Burke is not perfect and can have a short temper and an ego. Duffy said "self promotion is not a crime." Neither is pitching his private law firm, according to Duffy.

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

Self promotion is not a crime
Defense attorney Joe Duffy

Prosecutors accuse Burke of using 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.

Duffy argued, "He was looking for legal business, but he didn't do it under the threat of extortion or anything else."

Burke is also accused of shaking down the developer of the Old Post Office renovation for legal work. The scheme involved secret recordings between Burke and former aldermen, turned government mole, Danny Solis. The recording is the centerpiece of the case against Burke.

Duffy spent a great deal of time focusing on Solis and criticized prosecutors for not calling him as a witness.

Duffy told the jury, "The government realized Danny Solis was a failure for them."

At the end of his closing argument, Duffy asked the jury to send Burke home for his birthday. Burke will turn 80 on Dec. 29. Burke gave Duffy a thumbs up and a big smile when Duffy returned to the defense table.

Rebuttal arguments began after the defense ended its closing argument.

The judge still needs to read over 300 pages worth of jury instructions before they receive this, which will likely happen on Monday.