Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS/Sipa USA

Ald. Burke Charged With Racketeering In Federal Bribery Case

May 30, 2019 - 6:20 pm
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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Ald. Edward M. Burke was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday on racketeering and bribery charges for allegedly abusing his power to solicit legal work from companies doing business with the city.

Prosecutors lay out in a 54-page indictment how Burke, once one of the most powerful politicians in the city, allegedly steered work to his private law firm from companies involved in redevelopment projects, including the Old Main Post Office and a Burger King restaurant on the Southwest Side.

The indictment details conversations secretly recorded by then-Ald. Danny Solis, who the Sun-Times reported had been cooperating with the feds for two years. Solis secretly recorded numerous conversations involving Burke, the indictment states.

In one alleged scheme, Burke threatened to oppose a proposed fee increase at a Chicago museum because the museum failed to reply to his inquiry about an internship at the museum for a child of Burke’s friend.

Burke, 75, is charged with one count of racketeering, two counts of federal program bribery, two counts of attempted extortion, one count of conspiracy to commit extortion and eight counts of using interstate commerce to facilitate an unlawful activity. His arraignment is scheduled for June 4.

The indictment also charges Burke’s top political aide, Peter J. Andrews, with conspiring with the alderman to extort the operator of a Burger King in his ward.

Andrews, 69, is charged with one count of attempted extortion, one count of conspiracy to commit extortion, two counts of using interstate commerce to facilitate an unlawful activity and one count of making a false statement to the FBI, prosecutors said.

A real estate developer, Charles Cui, is charged in the indictment for allegedly steering private legal work into Burke’s firm, Klafter & Burke, which specialized in seeking property tax reductions for corporate clients.

Cui, 48, of Lake Forest, is charged with one count of federal program bribery, three counts of using interstate commerce to facilitate an unlawful activity and one count of making a false statement to the FBI, prosecutors said.

Racketeering, attempted extortion, and conspiracy to commit extortion are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison, prosecutors said. Federal program bribery is punishable by up to 10 years.

Burke's Office released the following statement after the news of the charges:

For over 50 years, Ed Burke has served the citizens of the 14th Ward and the City of Chicago honorably and tirelessly. Hisaccomplishments on behalf of the community and his constituents are notable and many.Any suggestion that Alderman Burke abused his position as a public official for personal gain is simply not true.

The charges are unfounded and not based on actual evidence. We welcome the opportunity to present the complete picture and all the facts to a jury. We are confident that when that happens, Ed Burke will be vindicated."

Craig Dellimore contributed to this report. 

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire & Chicago Sun-Times 2019. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)