At the heart of government's case are recordings of wiretapped phone calls that prosecutors say implicate Burke, but his attorneys now argue those recordings should be thrown out.
Attorneys for Chicago Alderman Ed Burke say he was lied to and deceived by retired Alderman Danny Solis in an investigation that resulted in charges of racketeering, bribery, attempted extortion and other corruption.
In court filings Thursday, Burke's lawyers say Solis, who is a cooperating witness for the prosecution, was "desperate to curry favor with the Government" because of his own legal troubles.
Ed Burke, longtime Chicago alderman, charged with attempted extortion
Solis agreed to record conversations with Burke starting in 2016.
The defense says prosecutors improperly guided Solis through "carefully scripted interactions" with Burke "to try to develop evidence demonstrating probable cause."
"It gets to the point of, is it entrapment? In other words, but for the cooperating witness perhaps encouraging, egging on...would that subject have committed the crime in the first instance?" said former federal prosecutor Jeff Cramer.
Alderman Ed Burke pleads not guilty to corruption charges
Burke's lawyers want some of the 14 counts of racketeering, bribery, and other corruption charges he faces thrown out, including those related to the alleged shakedown of developers involved in the Old Post Office renovation.
Solis' recorded conversations helped prosecutors obtain a warrant for wiretaps of Burke's cell phone. But the defense said prosecutors never told the judge that Solis had "told the Government that he had no knowledge of Ald. Burke ever having been involved in corrupt activity," something the judge may have considered.
"If you can get the wiretaps thrown out, the three-legged stool on which the government's case rests now loses a couple legs. It makes the prosecution almost untenable," Cramer said.
The filings reveal that Alderman Solis, who was investigated by the FBI investigation for alleged corruption, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the government in January 2019, suggesting he will not face prosecution.