A defense attorney in the case of the four ex-Commonwealth Edison officials convicted of working to bribe former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan believes federal prosecutors are looking to put them behind bars for “life.”
At a hearing Wednesday morning, attorneys for the so-called “ComEd Four” argued that the scheduled January sentencing dates should be pushed back by a month in order to allow their defense teams to better prepare their sentencing briefings.
During that hearing, Patrick Cotter — who represents Madigan’s longtime confidant Michael McClain — told the court prosecutors are expected to seek prison sentences that would keep the four in prison for the rest of their lives.
“The government, apparently, is going to suggest that the guidelines in this case are life. Life,” he said. “And we are asking for what we believe to be adequate time — a couple extra weeks — to respond, not only to the (pre-sentencing reports), but to what the government files when they’re asking to put our clients in jail for life.”
McClain, along with ex-ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, retired ComEd executive John Hooker and ex-City Club of Chicago president and former ComEd consultant Jay Doherty were each convicted in May of bribery conspiracy, bribery and willfully falsifying the company’s books.
Each of the defendants are in their 60s or 70s. They face up to five years in prison on the conspiracy convictions, up to 10 years on each bribery conviction and up to 20 years on each record falsification conviction.
The four were each scheduled to be sentenced at different dates in January 2024, but had sought to push those dates back into February.
But prosecutors argued the defense teams have been “well aware of the issues in dispute” in the six months since the trial concluded, and have enough time to prepare before the currently scheduled sentencing dates.
“The government and the public has a strong interest in finality and bringing this criminal case to a close,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu said in the government’s response. “Granting unnecessary requests for delay like this one contribute to a general sense that the wheels of justice do not move swiftly enough.”
Judge Harry Leinenweber ultimately denied the defense request Wednesday.
“The jury returned a verdict six months ago or so and there’s been a lot of time between the verdict and the sentencing dates, which are still … two months off almost, some of them,” Leinenweber said. “So it seems to me that there’s adequate time to get ready for sentencing without moving the dates.”
McClain is scheduled to be the first to be sentenced on Jan. 11, 2024. Pramaggiore will be sentenced Jan. 16, followed by Hooker who will be sentenced Jan. 25. Doherty is then scheduled for sentencing Jan. 30.
McClain is also set to stand trial next year alongside Madigan in the former speaker’s racketeering and bribery case.