A restaurant group official said he was “taken aback” when Ald. Ed Burke brought up possible work for his property tax law firm as the pair discussed driveway permits for a Burger King undergoing a remodel in Burke’s 14th Ward in 2017.
Former Ald. Ed Burke faces 14 criminal charges, including racketeering, bribery and extortion, in a case that accuses Burke of using his powerful position at City Hall to force those doing business with the city to hire his private law firm, formerly known as Klafter & Burke.
Some of Ald. Ed Burke’s turns of phrase have already become an indelible part of Chicago’s long history of political corruption. They are also now evidence in a federal trial.
Burke is charged with what prosecutors say are four criminal schemes, three involving the former alderperson’s side hustle as a property tax attorney. Perhaps the most elaborate scheme Burke is charged with involves the Old Post Office.
A probe by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that aldermanic prerogative has created a hyper-segregated city rife with racism and gentrification.
Evidence in Burke’s landmark corruption case moved into the third of four schemes the former 14th Ward alderman allegedly spearheaded, this one involving the massive Old Post Office building, which had been left vacant and run down for years before it was sold to 601 West Companies in 2016.
Jurors on Tuesday began hearing evidence of the second of four criminal schemes the longtime 14th Ward alderperson was allegedly involved in — this one involving remodeling work at a Burger King restaurant that was located in Burke’s district.
The jury heard the first direct testimony from someone who prosecutors allege Burke sought to extort by weaponizing his powerful position as chair of the City Council’s Finance Committee and the longest serving member of the City Council.
While prosecutors said former Ald. Ed Burke was a “bribe-taker and an extortionist” who used his elected office to “line his pockets,” Burke’s attorneys said he was an “old school, hardworking public servant” devoted to Chicago and its residents.
Former Ald. Ed Burke entered the Dirksen United States Courthouse for the first time since June 2019 accompanied by his wife, former Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Ann Burke, and a phalanx of attorneys.
Former Ald. Ed Burke, once the most powerful member of the City Council, is scheduled to go on trial starting on Monday at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse on 14 charges of bribery, extortion and racketeering — charges that are usually brought against members of the mob or street gangs.
The $500 million presidential center now under construction in Jackson Park has already made South Shore “ground zero” of Chicago’s housing crisis, with a high eviction rate and surging real estate prices, according to supporters of a City Council proposal.
The unanimous vote by the interim Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability caps an effort that began in 2017 to stop the Chicago Police Department from using databases to track Chicagoans they believe to be in a gang.
It is unclear what prompted the decision to reconsider the proposed settlement after the Chicago City Council rejected it in July on a vote of 22-26.
Chicago Board of Ethics Chair William Conlon said the settlement was “in the best interest of everyone,” while former Ald. Howard Brookins said he had been vindicated.
The city and its lawyers will now have to convince a jury that two officers did nothing wrong when they fired 16 shots at Darius Cole-Garrit, 21, at 9:30 p.m. Aug. 19, 2014, after a brief foot chase on the city's Far South Side.