Prosecutors capped their case revolving around the Burger King near 41st Street and Pulaski Road by playing a recorded call between ex-Ald. Ed Burke and former mayoral candidate Gery Chico from June 2017.
Architect Warren Johnson took the witness stand Thursday afternoon, more than a month after trial proceedings got underway in former Ald. Ed Burke’s landmark corruption case.
Former TriCity Foods official Jeff MacDonald told the jury a meeting with former Ald. Ed Burke “felt like a shakedown” because Burke made it clear “we were not going to get this permit until there was some neighborhood or philanthropic effort. Something to be involved with the city and the community.”
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.
Gabriella Garcia-Martinez, a firm administrator with Burke’s property tax practice, was allowed to testify Monday because she is set to undergo a medical procedure that would make her unavailable for the remainder of the trial.
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.
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.
Unlike last time when the landmark corruption case was put on hold for a week, proceedings continued briefly Monday before the parties broke until Tuesday.
“The most fundamental thing is you don’t allow someone’s hatred to infiltrate how you see people,” Rahm Emanuel said. “There is a fundamental goodness in people. I have seen it, I have been a product of it. Have I had antisemitism directed at me? Yes, but I’ve also had the American story.”
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.
Federal prosecutors called their first witness Friday afternoon in the longtime alderman’s landmark corruption trial — Elmhurst College professor Constance Mixon, who gave the jury a crash course in the city’s political system.
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.
After a weeklong delay after an attorney tested positive for COVID-19, a jury was picked Thursday to decide the federal corruption trial of former Ald. Ed Burke and his two co-defendants.