The Chicago Syndicate: Ed Burke
Showing posts with label Ed Burke. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ed Burke. Show all posts

Friday, May 31, 2019

Details of Alderman Ed Burke Indictment on Federal Racketeering and Bribery Charges in Connection with Alleged Corruption Schemes

A federal grand jury charged in a detailed 59-page indictment City of Chicago Alderman Edward M. Burke on racketeering and bribery charges for allegedly abusing his position to solicit and extort private legal work and other benefits from companies and individuals with business before the city.

The 19-count indictment accuses Burke of corruptly soliciting work for his private law firm from companies involved in redevelopment projects at the Old Main Post Office in downtown Chicago and a fast food restaurant in Burke’s ward on the Southwest Side. It also alleges that he corruptly attempted to assist a business owner with a development on the Northwest Side shortly after the business owner told Burke that he would engage Burke’s law firm. The firm, Klafter & Burke, specialized in seeking property tax reductions for corporate clients.

The charges also allege that Burke threatened to oppose an admission fee increase at the Field Museum of Natural History, because the museum failed to respond to Burke’s inquiry about an internship at the museum for the daughter of former Alderman Terry Gabinski, a friend of Burke's.

The indictment was returned in U.S. District Court in Chicago. It charges Burke, 75, of Chicago, 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.

The indictment also charges two other individuals: Peter J. Andrews, an employee in Burke’s 14th Ward office; and Charles Cui, a Chicago real estate developer. Andrews is accused of conspiring with Burke to extort the operator of the fast food restaurant, while Cui allegedly steered private legal work to Burke in an effort to influence and reward the alderman in connection with permitting and tax increment financing for the Northwest Side development.  Andrews, 69, of Chicago, 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. 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.

Arraignments for Burke and Andrews are scheduled for June 4, 2019, at 10:00 a.m., before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole. Arraignment for Cui has not yet been scheduled.

The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the FBI.  The City of Chicago Inspector General’s Office and the Amtrak Office of Inspector General provided valuable assistance. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amarjeet Bhachu, Diane MacArthur, Matthew Kutcher, Sarah Streicker and Timothy Chapman.

The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Racketeering, attempted extortion, and conspiracy to commit extortion are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison.  Federal program bribery is punishable by up to ten years.  Using interstate commerce to promote unlawful activity and making a false statement to the FBI are each punishable by up to five years.  If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Chicago Alderman Ed Burke Charged with Extortion by Federal Prosecutors #Corruption

Federal prosecutors on Thursday filed a corruption case against Edward M. Burke, who has been Chicago’s most powerful alderman for decades, just weeks after FBI agents dramatically raided his offices at City Hall and on the city’s Southwest Side.

As the longtime chairman of the Council’s Finance Committee, Burke built far greater clout than any alderman and a long list of private law clients who do business with City Hall. But his historic tenure now comes to the same place where so many of his colleagues have found themselves: in Chicago’s federal courthouse, with authorities alleging he abused his power to enrich himself. And like so many other aldermen with far less clout, Burke apparently got caught on a wiretap saying something he would not dare utter in public.

Burke’s spokesman did not return calls seeking comment. Nor did Anton Valukas and Charles Sklarsky, the two prominent defense lawyers who have represented Burke since the initial federal raids at his offices on Nov. 29.

On that day, the windows of Burke’s offices were covered in brown butcher paper as investigators spent hours executing search warrants. And the feds raided the Finance Committee offices, on the third floor of City Hall, again on Dec. 13, indicating the urgency of the probe.

The criminal case hits as Burke is seeking to extend his record tenure in the City Council, running for another term in the February election in the 14th Ward, which he has represented for half a century.

The investigation of Burke began at the office of City’s Hall independent inspector general, Joe Ferguson. Burke and many other aldermen long had resisted allowing the I.G. to have oversight of the Council, but Ferguson finally won authority to investigate aldermen in 2016.

Burke, 75, has been an alderman since 1969, when he succeeded his father in the council during the tenure of Mayor Richard J. Daley.

In his time as alderman, Burke has watched as more than 30 fellow aldermen who served alongside him were convicted of corruption. And the charges against Burke come as yet another alderman, Willie Cochran (20th Ward), continues to fight a two-year-old federal corruption case. But Burke is clearly the most powerful alderman the feds have targeted since Thomas Keane -- another Finance Committee chairman -- was convicted in 1974.

With his finely tailored pinstripe suits and emerald-green ties, Burke long has been the personification of the South Side Irish Democratic Machine that ruled City Hall for generations.

While he presided over the Finance Committee, Burke frequently had to recuse himself from voting on hundreds of pieces of legislation that benefited the dozens of corporate clients of his law firm.

An investigation published last month by WBEZ and the Better Government Association found that Burke recused himself from voting on City Council measures 464 times in the last eight years. That’s four times as many “abstentions” for Burke as for the the rest of the aldermen combined. But even in some cases where Burke did not vote, WBEZ and the BGA found that the veteran alderman had exercised his clout to make sure his clients got what they wanted from City Hall.

At times, Burke has guided legislation through the council process, writing letters to city bureaucrats or even chairing meetings on the ordinances and motioning for his colleagues to vote them through -- only to recuse himself at the last moment due to his conflicts of interest.

In the case of a multi-billion-dollar bond deal at O’Hare Airport a year ago, no less than three banks that are Burke clients stand to benefit from the transaction.

The Burke firm’s work focused mostly on winning property tax appeals for its clients from Cook County authorities who determine the valuations of downtown high rises and other real estate.

His most prominent client in recent years was Trump Tower Chicago, for which Burke reportedly won millions of dollars in tax breaks. Earlier this year, Burke stopped representing the building amid criticism for doing the bidding of President Trump who is deeply unpopular in Chicago, especially among Latinos who are often the target of his anti-immigrant rhetoric.

With election challenges looming for the first time in many years, Burke even began criticizing Trump recently.

While his private law practice made his very wealthy, Burke is probably best known for his role in the turbulent “Council Wars” period in the 1980s, when he and fellow South Side Ald. Ed Vrdolyak spread-headed the mostly white block of aldermen that frequently thwarted Chicago’s first black mayor, Harold Washington. Due to his notoriety from that era, Chicago politicos have long believed that Burke could never get elected mayor. But Burke has enjoyed his greatest power since then as a loyal and crucial Council ally of the last two mayors, Rahm Emanuel and Richard M. Daley.

When both Emanuel and Daley took office, they had been at odds with Burke. Still, both mayors decided to make deals with Burke, rather than confront him.

Under Emanuel, Burke has maintained his chairmanship of the Council’s most powerful committee and continues to enjoy the most visible and expensive perk of his clout: a police bodyguard detail that costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

In return, Emanuel appears to have gotten Burke’s loyalty. The alderman voted with Emanuel’s agenda on 100 percent of divided roll-call votes at the Council, according to a recent study by political scientists at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Burke had endorsed Gery Chico, his former aide and ex-president of Chicago’s school board, to succeed the retiring Emanuel in the upcoming Feb. 26 election.

The alderman himself faces four challengers. All of them are Latinos, reflecting the changing demographics of the Southwest Side’s working-class neighborhoods.

On Wednesday, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia threw his backing to 28-year-old Burke challenger Tanya Patino, deriding the incumbent as “a walking conflict of interest for decades.”

As Mexican immigrants and their families have become the largest ethnic group in his ward, Burke has sought to adjust for the changing times, recruiting Latino precinct captains for his powerful ward organization and even speaking a bit of heavily accented Spanish. Talking to one constituent recently, he joked in Spanish that his command of the language was not that bad for “an older gentleman.”

Yet, the alderman’s once-absolute power had weakened in recent years. In the March primary election, his brother, Dan Burke, lost his seat in the Illinois House to a young Hispanic challenger.

Burke owns a fortress-like, three-story home that looms over his constituents’ bungalows and ranches in the Gage Park neighborhood, next to the elevated tracks of the CTA’s Orange Line. The home is surrounded by wrought-iron fencing.

His influence was so great that city crews strayed far from their normal routes during blizzards to plow the side street in front of the Burke home, even before more heavily trafficked roads got cleared. And Burke’s clout extended far beyond the Southwest Side.

Burke also long has enjoyed the central role in the Democratic Party’s process for placing judges on the Cook County bench. And his wife, Anne Burke, has a spot on the Illinois Supreme Court.

He has more than $12 million in campaign accounts that he controls. That’s a sum that far exceeds the political cash of all of his 49 Council colleagues combined.

In the weeks since the initial FBI raids at Burke’s offices, it was unclear what exactly the feds suspected.

Burke said he did not know what the agents were investigating. But he said he would cooperate fully and was confident that the probe would end as so many other investigations he has faced – with no charges against him.

Thanks to Dan Mihalopoulis.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Offices Raided by FBI of Ed Burke, the Powerful Chicago Alderman & Real Estate Tax Attorney for Donald Trump

Federal agents raided the City Hall office of powerful Chicago Alderman Ed Burke on Thursday morning, sources familiar with the development confirmed. A law firm headed by Burke helped Donald Trump and investors in Trump's luxury downtown Chicago hotel cut their property taxes by an incredible 39 percent over seven years, saving them $11.7 million, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis found.

Agents arrived at the office early Thursday morning, told employees to leave and papered over the glass windows at the office’s entrance to conceal the investigation going on inside, a source confirmed. A woman who left the office and did not identify herself said FBI agents were inside.

Burke’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Burke’s ward office on the Southwest Side also had the same brown paper taped over its front door with three signs that read, “Office closed.” An officer sitting in a squad car parked behind Burke's ward office said a search warrant was being executed inside but offered no further details.

Burke is the longtime chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee, where he controls much of the legislative purse strings at City Hall. He has held office since 1969 and is running for re-election to a record 14th term.

A law enforcement source told the Chicago Tribune that FBI agents raided Burke’s City Hall office and that the search was ongoing. No arrests were made or are imminent, said the source, who had no details on the nature of the investigation.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Did Alderman Edward Burke Add a Mob Associate to Payroll as a Favor for Reputed Mobster?

A look back in time. The Chicago Tribune on February 10, 1985 has a page one story by Trib reporters Robert Davis and William B. Crawford Jr.(Sorry no link on this one). The story is titled JAILED 1ST WARD 'FIXER' WORKED IN SHADOWS:

Victor Albanese is not a name well known around Chicago's City Hall.But in classic Chicago style, it is not who knows you but who you know that makes the difference.And last week, the name of Victor Albanese was being talked about in City Hall and, more important, in the Dirksen Federal Building just three blocks south. In Chicago parlance, Victor Albanese was a fixer, a bagman, an insider, a 1st Warder and, as of last week, an imprisoned felon. Albanese is a vital key in an investigation of alleged city government corruption...


You might say how does someone like this get on Chicago's payroll? The Trib explains:

Last MayRoemer: Man Against the Mob, reportedly at the repeated urgings of D'Arco, Ald. Edward Burke[14th], whose budget wranglings had left him several extra job openings for investigators for his city council Finance Committee,hired Albanese for $900 a month. Sources close to the committee said that Albanese's duties were few and that he was rarely seen around City Hall.


It didn't bother Alderman Burke that in the mid-1970's Albanese was fired from Chicago's Streets and Sanitation Department because of a fraud scheme. Alderman Burke was doing a favor for John D'Arco , Democratic Committeeman of the old 1st Ward. FBI agent William Roemer identified John D'Arco Sr. as a "made member" of the Chicago Mob in his book on Tony Accardo. We will clarify that, a former FBI agent who's a loyal reader of Newsalert informs us that John D'Arco Sr. was a high ranking made member of the Chicago Mob who had capo status to run a political crew. Alderman Burke, doing favors for mobsters.

Thanks to Steve Bartin

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ed Burke's Palace: Powerful Chicago alderman gets zoning break, special parking

Ald. Edward M. Burke has ruled the 14th Ward for 40 years. He has used his clout to build himself a palace — right alongside the CTA’s Orange Line near Pulaski.

The house is part of a $4.6 million development that Burke and his partners built on a parking lot over the objections of Mayor Daley’s zoning administrators.

Daley’s zoning staff thought the development — one massive, three story house along with 13 town homes — wasn’t “compatible” with the Archer Heights neighborhood, where it would tower over the surrounding bungalows. But Burke, the city’s most powerful alderman, won permission from his colleagues on the City Council for the project anyway.

Then he got the city Zoning Board of Appeals’ OK to build the 4,400-square-foot house without having to leave space — as required by city ordinance — for a yard in the front or back.

The house does have an enormous rooftop deck, though, giving Burke and his wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke, a bird’s-eye view of the L trains that rush by all day between the Loop and Midway Airport.

They moved in nearly four years ago.

Burke declined to discuss the project, which couldn’t have been built without City Council approval. Instead, he gave the Chicago SunTimes a copy of a June 24, 2004, letter that he sent to the Chicago Board of Ethics, assuring the city agency that he would abstain from voting on any matters involving the construction of his home and the rest of the project. And he promised he wouldn’t talk to any city officials about the development, either.

According to records obtained by the Sun-Times, Burke teamed with two of his campaign contributors — Anthony DeGrazia, a housing developer, and Eric Gonzales, a contractor whose company has worked on several projects for City Hall. They became equal partners in a new company — 51st Street Townhomes LLC — that paid $300,000 in late June 2004 to buy a little-used parking lot in the 3900 block of West 51st St. They bought it from someone who’d been a client of Burke’s law firm.

The triangular lot, about two- thirds of an acre, was zoned for businesses. Burke and his partners hired a lobbyist — Marcus Nunes, a law partner of Mayor Daley’s former chief of staff, Gery Chico — to get City Hall’s permission to build.

The city’s Zoning Department deemed the project “not recommended.” But the City Council went ahead and approved the project on Sept. 1, 2004 — with Burke abstaining.

On Sept. 10, 2004, Burke and his partners got a $480,000 construction loan from Cole Taylor Bank. They were free to begin building the town homes. But they still couldn’t build Burke’s new home unless the Zoning Board of Appeals agreed to drastically reduce the required size of the front and back yards. If the board wouldn’t agree, there wouldn’t have been enough room to build the house.

“Due to the unique shape of the property, it is impossible to place a home on it and meet the requirements for front, side and rear yard minimums,” according to documents Burke’s group gave the appeals board. “In the absence of such a variation, the property is likely to remain vacant or underutilized.’’

Shortly before Thanksgiving 2004, the appeals board gave Burke what he wanted: His house could be set back just three feet from the lot line, rather than the normal nine feet. And his backyard had to be just three feet deep, rather than the usual 30 feet.

Today, Burke’s home and three car attached garage fills the property. He has no backyard, just a paved driveway around his house. There’s no lawn, just a few flower beds.

Burke and his partners sold the home for $900,000 to the Anne M. Burke Trust on Oct. 10, 2005. The tax bills are mailed to the alderman, who paid $8,551.98 in property taxes last year.

After selling the house to his wife’s trust, Burke and his partners sold the 13 town homes for a total of $3.7 million. One of the biggest went for $280,000 to state Rep. Daniel Burke, the alderman’s brother.

Ald. Burke’s block is one-way, with a traffic barricade. And no one can park on the street without a parking permit. But there are two different permits required — one for the people who live across the street from Burke, another to park on the alderman’s side of the street.

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