Longtime Chicago alderman Ed Burke convicted on federal corruption charges

 December 24, 2023

Democrat Ed Burke, a longtime alderman in Barack Obama's hometown of Chicago, Illinois, was convicted this week on 13 counts of corruption, as the Associated Press reports.

The conviction came after 23 hours of deliberation spread over four days, with the jury determining that the longest-serving council member in the city's history had abused his position to secure lucrative business deals for his private law firm.

Shakedown schemes detailed

Now 79 years of age, Burke first ascended to the Chicago City Council back in 1969, and the corruption schemes on which he was found guilty unfolded between the years of 2016 and 2018, according to the Daily Wire.

Of particular interest to prosecutors in the case was a scenario from 2017 in which Burke engaged in a “shakedown” of a Burger King franchisee.

The government contended that Burke took steps to impede the issuance of building and property permits for the restaurant in order to strong-arm the franchise owners to retain his law firm for tax-related work.

Other allegations leveled against Burke involved claims that he exerted unlawful pressure on a developer involved with the renovation of the historic Old Post Office in the city and also threatened to oppose a fee increase at the Field Museum when administrators there declined to offer an internship to one of his political cronies.

Adding to the intrigue of the case was the fact that another former Chicago alderman, Danny Solis, had agreed to wear a wire to assist the FBI in its probe of Burke.

DOJ reacts to verdict

Following the jury's decision, Morris Pasqual, acting U.S. attorney for Chicago, commented on the outcome.

“This case was about bribery and extortion occurring at the highest levels of Chicago city government,” he said.

Pasqual continued, “The public voted Mr. Burke into office, and they trusted that he would be guided by and motivated by pursuing the common good. He betrayed that trust.”

Democrats condemn

Current Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson offered his reaction to the verdict, saying, “Elected officials are responsible for serving with honesty and integrity, with a moral responsibility to their constituents to uphold and abide by the law. In the case that they fail to do so, it is imperative that they are held accountable. That is what the jury decided today.”

Former Mayor Lori Lightfoot blasted Burke, stating that he “should rightfully be remembered as a man who elevated personal ambition and greed over doing other people's work.”

Lightfoot further asserted that there were other parties involved in Burke's corrupt activities, such as those who “looked the other way as [he] systematically monetized the Finance Committee for his own personal benefit,” and she said that he “foolishly” thought himself invincible and “grossly overplayed his hand.”

According to the Justice Department, Burke's sentencing is set for June 19, 2024, and he faces up to 20 years in prison on the racketeering and attempted extortion counts, up to ten years for corruptly soliciting and accepting things of value, and up to five years for using an interstate facility to promote unlawful activity.

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