Chicago Ald. Ed Burke indicted on 14-count corruption charge, pleads not guilty
Chicago’s longest-serving alderman pleaded not guilty to a host of new federal corruption charges.
A federal grand jury May 30 indicted Chicago’s longest-serving alderman for allegedly accepting bribes in remodeling discussions involving the city’s Old Post Office building, and threatening to oppose an admission fee increase at an unnamed museum that did not respond to his requests for an internship for a personal friend’s child. These latest charges paint a more concerning picture of the allegations that prompted federal agents to raid the 75-year-old’s City Hall and ward offices in January.
The latest charges include one count of racketeering, two counts of attempted extortion, one count of conspiracy to commit extortion, two counts of federal program bribery and eight counts of using interstate commerce for unlawful activities. Racketeering, attempted extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The indictment also named Burke’s aide Peter Andrews and Chicago real estate developer Charles Cui.
In January, federal prosecutors charged Burke with one count of attempted extortion for allegedly withholding a remodeling permit from the owners of a Burger King franchise in his ward. Burke allegedly pressured the fast food executives to hire his private law firm to handle their property tax work. He is also facing 20 years behind bars for that charge.
Burke’s law firm handles property tax appeals, counting some of Chicago’s biggest businesses among its clients. Before Donald Trump became president, Burke’s firm handled the property tax appeal on Trump International Hotel and Tower in downtown Chicago.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot made her position on Burke clear, announcing May 31 that her office would send a formal letter requesting his resignation.
“I believe that he has forfeited the moral authority and the privilege that he needs to continue as alderman of the 14th ward and for these reasons I am calling on him to resign forthwith,” Lightfoot said.
On Jan. 4, the alderman resigned from his position as chairman of the city’s Committee on Finance following the first attempted extortion charge.
Burke maintains his innocence and has not resigned from his seat on the City Council.