Ex-Ald. Solis, secret mole in Ed Burke Chicago case, takes stand; closing arguments expected Wed.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023
Ex-Ald. Solis, secret mole in Ed Burke Chicago case, takes stand
Ex-Ald. Danny Solis, the secret mole in the Alderman Ed Burke corruption case, took the stand Tuesday. Closing arguments are expected Wednesday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There was a long-anticipated faceoff in the Dirksen Federal Courthouse Tuesday: After years out of public view, Danny Solis spent the day under a microscope.

Lawyers for former Chicago Alderman Ed Burke called former alderman-turned-government-informant Solis to the stand.

He was the main attraction during the six-week trial. Solis left the federal building Tuesday afternoon after spending hours on the witness stand.

His former friend, and now foe, Ed Burke, leaned back in his chair at the defense table, even smiling at times as Burke watched his attorney, Chris Gair, use gestures and loudly ask Solis questions, one being: "Your reason to cooperate with the government was to save yourself?"

Solis replied, "yes."

Facing his own bribery charge, Solis became a government mole in 2016 by wearing a wire and allowing his phones to be recorded for two and half years. He told jurors he made about 20,000 recordings.

Under questioning, Solis admitted that under the deal, he will never have to serve a day in prison.

Solis secretly recorded Burke when they discussed issues involving the $600 million Old Post Office renovation.

Burke is accused of shaking the developer down to get tax appeal business for his private law firm.

The recordings are key evidence against Burke, who's also accused in three other schemes, involving a Southwest Side Burger King, a liquor store and the Field Museum.

In one, Burke can be heard saying, "If we land the tuna, there certainly will be a, uh, a day of accounting. You can count on that."

Throughout the trial, jurors heard testimony about Burke's massive power. But, the defense tried to get Solis to admit mayors have more power than Burke. In a response to a question about Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Solis responded, "Mayors are not God; there are always problems."

But, much of Tuesday's questioning focused on the tactics Solis used during conversations with Burke, including initiating most of the conversations with him and lying to Burke to get him to say certain things.

Solis admitted he lied to Burke about his talks with the Post Office developer, making it seem they could be coaxed into a deal.

Burke: "You know, if we're not signed up, I'm not gonna do any lifting for this guy."

Solis: "But signed up for what? Because I think, I told Mr. Skydell that it would be for the taxes. I don't know if you're..."

Burke: "Yeah, we haven't heard a word."

The defense rested Tuesday, and closing arguments are expected Wednesday.