CHICAGO (WLS) — Former Chicago Alderman Ed Burke has been convicted on multiple counts in his federal corruption case, with the exception of one. The verdict came after Burke faced charges of racketeering, bribery, and attempted extortion. Specifically, he was accused of using his public office for personal gain.
The case against Burke, once one of the most powerful members of the Chicago City Council, focused on three separate instances of corruption. U.S. Attorney Morris Pasqual stated that Burke had engaged in corrupt behavior by tying official actions to monetary contributions. Co-defendant Peter Andrews, a former aide to Burke, was also present in the courtroom but was found not guilty of all charges.
The trial also included defendant Charles Cui, who participated virtually due to illness. Cui was found guilty on all counts. Burke’s wife, Anne, and their family members were in attendance as well.
As the jury delivered the verdict, Burke listened intently, with a noticeable frown on his face. His wife stepped forward to comfort him, and he kissed her on the cheek. Burke appeared deep in thought and stunned by the outcome.
Burke’s conviction stems from various instances of attempted extortion, including his efforts to obtain money from the Field Museum and to steer tax appeal business to his private law firm through Burger King owners in the 14th Ward. The heart of the government’s case, however, centered around Burke’s use of his position to benefit his law firm in relation to the Old Post Office. The pivotal evidence included several recordings made by former alderman Danny Solis, who cooperated with the government.
The jury, comprised of nine women and three men, deliberated for 23 hours before reaching a verdict. Legal experts have emphasized the complexity of the case, given the presence of three defendants and a significant amount of evidence.
With this conviction, Burke joins a long list of Chicago City Council members who have faced charges and served time for corruption. Many observers considered Burke untouchable until the FBI raided his office in November 2018, revealing the extent of his alleged wrongdoing.
Burke’s sentencing is scheduled for June 19, and he could face a maximum sentence of 20 years. In the meantime, his conviction sends a strong signal regarding the accountability of elected officials. The city’s current mayor, Brandon Johnson, emphasizes the importance of holding officials responsible for their actions.
Former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also weighed in, asserting that Burke’s legacy will be one of personal ambition and greed overshadowing public service. She highlighted the systemic issues that enabled Burke’s behavior, such as aldermanic prerogative and the control he held over judicial nominations. Nonetheless, Lightfoot expressed hope that this conviction will spur much-needed reforms in transparency and accountability.
Burke’s conviction marks the end of his dominance and influence in Chicago politics. The impact of his downfall will likely resonate beyond his individual case, potentially shaping future efforts to combat corruption.