75-year-old Alderman Ed Burke was charged with one count of attempted extortion on Jan. 3, 2019. It is alleged that Burke used his position of being one of the most powerful men on the Chicago City Council to solicit new business for his law firm which he worked at in the private sector. This is according to a criminal complaint which has just been unsealed.
According to the complaint, the charges stem around a remodeling project of a fast-food company which took place in 2017. It is alleged that the company wanted Burke’s support for the project. In return, the company would become a client’s of Burke’s firm.
A U.S. Attorney’s office spokesperson has stated that Burke is scheduled to appear at 3 pm at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. If convicted, he may face a 20-year prison sentence.
Burke was seen leaving his lawyers’ office and did not comment on the situation.
The FBI secretly recorded Burke’s cell phone conversations as part of their investigation, the complaint stated.
Five weeks ago, the FBI raided Burke’s office located at City Hall and his ward offices. On Nov, 29 the FBI showed up without warning at City Hall, told everybody to leave and covered the windows with paper.
After spending seven hours at City Hall, the left through the back staircase to avoid having to see the reporters waiting outside for updates.
Since the raid happened, people were speculating that this would be the end of the almost 50-year career Burke had with the city council, whether this was due to an election loss, federal charges, or both.
It was also thought that Burke would be defeated partially because he worked for Donald Trump, dealing with property tax appeal. People thought that he may not stay in the race after the raid happened.
Burke released a statement stating that people may be aware that previously, there have been several investigations just like this one. He also stated that he cooperated with the investigators fully. After each investigation, he was found innocent. He also said that would once again, he will cooperate fully and is confident nothing will be found wrong.
It is reported that a few days after this incident, 10,000 people showed up to a fundraiser for Burke which cost $150-per-ticket located at the Sheraton Grand. This fundraiser raised more money than any other fundraiser he had done previously.
This money was used for his rising legal expenses.
He has also faced scrutiny in the past for many reasons. This included the $100 million city workers fund which was run and operated by his committee. Also, his law firm often represents clients who have business with the city. This forced him to abstain from voting.
Burke has lived through other FBI investigations which threatened to undercut his power base. He even blamed a dead regarding ghost-payrolling inconsistencies on his committee payroll.
On a regular basis his law firm, Klafter & Burke tried to reduce Trump Tower’s property taxes.
He also had issues because he used bodyguards funded by taxpayers drive him to City Hall, and how snowplows clean the snow on his side of the block quicker than anywhere else.
Burke’s wife is Anne Burke who is Illinois Supreme Court Justice.
Written by Barbara Sobel
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
Chicago Sun-Times: Ald. Ed Burke charged in attempted extortion case
Crain’s Chicago Business: Ed Burke charged in attempted extortion case
WBBM Newsradio: Longtime Alderman Ed Burke Charged In Attempted Extortion Case
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