More details emerge on ex-alderman Ed Burke's efforts to halt Burger King rehab during testimonies

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Friday, December 8, 2023
Testimonies reveal details on Burke's efforts to halt rehab project
Former Chicago Alderman Ed Burke's corruption trial continued Thursday and new testimonies revealed efforts to shut down a Burger King rehab project.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A big name is expected to be called soon in the corruption trial of Ed Burke.

The prosecution continues to lay out its case against the former powerful Chicago alderman.

FBI agents raided Ed Burke's 14th ward office five years ago. According to then-lead agent, Pam McCarthy, inside they found plans for a Burger King rehab project and a file folder full of documents, including printouts of a "History of Burger King" Wikipedia page, the website of the Houston-based owners, a long list of all the Burger Kings they owned in the Chicago area, and an important memo.

Burke is accused of shutting down a rehab project at a Burger King in his ward while pressuring the owners to use his private law firms Klafter and Burke for property tax appeal work.

In 2017, the restaurant at 40th and South Pulaski had received a permit from the city's building department to go ahead with the construction. However, the project came to a halt over a driveway permit issue raised by Burke's chief of staff and co-defendant Pete Andrews.

Paul Perino was a public way inspector in the 14th ward. He testified that Burke's office told him to check out a report of debris blocking a Burger King sidewalk. Perino said there was no debris, but he discovered the restaurant did not have a driveway permit.

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Perino gave the owners a citation only. Jurors learned from earlier testimony that the lack of a driveway permit is not a cause to shut a rehab project down.

However, in a memo from Andrews to Burke, Andrews wrote, "We stopped construction on the site and it is still on hold while the Dept. of Transportation reviews the driveway permits that were submitted mid November."

Referring to the owners of the Burger King, Andrews wrapped the memo up by writing, "I recall that you mentioned to them since they are out of Houston, they should think about local legal representation for the zoning matters and so forth."

Late Thursday afternoon, the Burger King project architect Warren Johnson testified he found it "highly unusual" the driveway permit issue came up after they were issued a building permit.