Hundreds write letters to judge in support of former Alderman Ed Burke ahead of sentencing

Thursday, June 13, 2024
Hundreds write letters to judge in support of former Ald. Ed Burke
Hundreds of supporters of former Chicago Alderman Ed Burke have written letters to a judge ahead of his sentencing for his corruption convictions.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- An avalanche of letters in support of Ed Burke are now in the hands of U.S. District Judge Viginia Kendall.

The letters contain glowing prose of family, friends, public officials, faith leaders, law enforcement members and many others who have crossed paths him.

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Former federal prosecutor Nancy DePodesta said the letters can have an impact for the former powerful alderman on his sentencing day.

"The question is not so much the quantity, but it's the quality of the letters and how well do these individuals who are writing the letters really know former Alderman Burke and what can they say to his character," DePodesta said.

Federal prosecutors are asking for a 10-year sentence. Burke has been convicted by a jury on 13 counts of bribery, attempted extortion and racketeering. The 80-year-old Burke's lawyers are asking for alternatives other than prison.

"The sentencing statute requires the court to consider not just the offense itself, but the history and characteristics of the defendant. And that's exactly what these letters are designed to do," DePodesta said.

The 200-plus letters include an emotional letter from Burke's wife Ann, his children and many others who have been in the public eye, including former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb, former mayoral candidate Paul Vallas, injured Chicago Police officer Carlos Yanez, Jr., Rev. Michael Pfleger and former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

"When I had problems, I would go to Ed, and he really helped me get it done," McCarthy said. "As I said, he's been nothing but a friend to me. And you know what he asked on me in return? Nothing... not a thing."

McCarthy calls 10 years a death sentence for Ed Burke. He hopes the Judge takes in account all the lesser known people who wrote letters about Burke's charitable character throughout his long and powerful career.

"He's done so much good for people that people don't even know about," McCarthy said. "Paying for funerals for people who couldn't afford it... helping people buy clothes when they couldn't clothe their children."

Before Judge Kendall sentences Burke on June 24, she is expected to issue a ruling on a defense motion to retry and throw out some of the counts. It is an ask that is considered a longshot.