Michael Madigan indictment: Former House speaker pleads not guilty in federal corruption case

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner WLS logo
Thursday, March 10, 2022
Mike Madigan pleads not guilty in federal corruption case
The I-Team reports that Mike Madigan was arraigned in federal court on Wednesday during a telephone hearing.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan entered a not guilty plea to racketeering, extortion and other federal charges on Wednesday.

It was an inconceivable event that the most powerful political figure in Illinois' 204-year state government history even went before a federal judge in such a corruption case. Madigan, with 50 years under his belt in the General Assembly, was long considered untouchable -- or at least beyond the reach of prosecutors.

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But on Wednesday afternoon, without personally uttering a single word, Madigan let his attorneys enter a not guilty plea to a 22-count federal indictment that rocked the Illinois political world when it was handed up by a federal grand jury last week.

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The arraignment and initial court "appearance" was in name only. No one actually appeared in court or at the Dirksen Federal Building. As the I-Team first disclosed, Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole had ordered the hearing be held via telephone-a function of continuing COVID-19 restrictions-although the impersonal proceeding allowed Madigan to avoid a "perp walk" through the lobby of the courthouse building.

The next hearing is scheduled for April 1 for Madigan and co-defendant Michael McClain, although that too is likely to be conducted by phone.