A federal judge ruled Monday against Ald. Edward Burke and his co-defendants in a series of pre-trial motions to suppress evidence and dismiss certain charges in his racketeering case.
U.S. District Judge Robert Dow’s 194-page ruling means Burke’s case could finally go to trial more than three years after he was indicted. The judge previously said a trial would likely take place next year as his schedule is backed up due to pandemic protocols.
Burke’s attorneys argued in a motion filed in August 2020 that evidence gleaned from wiretaps on Burke’s cell phone and City Hall offices, which allowed the FBI to monitor thousands of conversations that the alderman has had over the course of almost a year, should be removed.
They accused prosecutors of then directing Ald. Daniel Solis, who was secretly cooperating with the investigation, for having “scripted interactions” with Burke and lying to curry favor with the government. At the time, Solis himself had been recorded “committing a number of different crimes,” the petition states.
But Dow said in its ruling that Burke’s arguments “are largely about the strength of the evidence, not the sufficiency of the indictment and the wiretap request.” It will be up to the jury to assess whether the government has proven the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt at trial, Dow said.
Burke, 78, was originally charged in a criminal complaint in January 2019. He was charged four months later with 14 counts, including racketeering, federal bribery , attempted extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, and using interstate commerce to facilitate illegal activity.
The 59-page indictment described a series of schemes in which Burke allegedly tried to induce developers to hire his law firm, Klafter & Burke, to appeal their property taxes. Among the projects Burke tried to capitalize on was the massive $800 million renovation of the West Loop post office, according to the charges.
Burke’s longtime assistant Peter Andrews was also accused of helping the alderman try to shake off two businessmen seeking to refurbish a Burger King restaurant in the 14th arrondissement.
The indictment also accused developer Charles Cui of hiring Burke’s law firm in exchange for the alderman’s help with a signaling permit and funding agreement for a project in the neighborhood. from Portage Park.
All three pleaded not guilty.
Burke is the city’s most senior alderman and has served on city council since 1969. His current term ends in May 2023.
This is a developing story. Check back for more details.