Ed Burke trial: More secret recordings played in court as week of testimonies wraps up

Sarah Schulte Image
Friday, December 1, 2023
More secret recordings played in court during Ed Burke federal trial
More secret recordings of former alderman Ed Burke were played in federal court Friday as a week of testimonies wrapped up in downtown Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Ed Burke was once one of the most powerful people on Chicago's City Council. Secretly-recorded conversations of former alderman Ed Burke are being revealed to the public in an ongoing federal trial.

Federal prosecutors said they revealed Burke tried to use his political clout to drive business to his own law firm.

It's been a damaging week of testimony in the federal government's case against Ed Burke. Much of the damage has been caused by his own words.

This week, jurors heard the now infamous "landing the tuna" comment while listening to secret FBI recordings between Burke and former alderman turned government mole, Danny Solis. It wasn't the only time Burke mentioned "tuna" to Solis.

"If we land the tuna, there certainly will be a day of accounting, you can count on that," Burke said in an evidence recording.

Jurors learned Friday that the day of accounting never happened.

In 2017, Burke tried to land property tax appeal business for his private law firm, Klafter and Burke, from the developer of the Old Post Office, according to prosecutors.

Harry Skydell was having issues with the massive $600 million renovation of the Old Post Office. At the suggestion of Solis, developer Skydell asked for Burke's help to intervene. After a few months with no commitments from Skydell to use Burke's firm, the former powerful Finance Committee Chairman showed his frustration with Skydell during another recorded conversation with Solis.

"As far as the I'm concerned, they can go F-- themselves," Burke said in an evidence recording.

Two years after Burke pitched his law firm to Skydell, the developer agreed to use Klafter and Burke for two other Loop buildings his company had recently purchased. JLL Executive Bryan Oyster, the general manager of the buildings, testified no money was ever paid to Burke's firm because one deal had yet to be signed and the other Klafter and Burke suddenly canceled it.

The timing of the deal was a few weeks after Burke's City Hall Finance Committee office was raided.

Prosecutors wrapped up the Old Post Office portion of the trial with another recording between Burke and Solis. In it, Solis talked about continuing his work as Burke's consultant by referring developers to Burke's law firm. In the recording Burke responded, "We come from the old school."