Former state Rep. Luis Arroyo gets 57 months for bribery scheme

Former state Rep. Luis Arroyo gets 57 months for bribery scheme

The former Illinois House assistant majority leader now faces nearly 5 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to accepting and soliciting bribes to expand sweepstakes gambling legislation in Springfield.

Former state Rep. Luis Arroyo was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison May 25 after pleading guilty to federal charges of accepting bribes in exchange for promoting legislation expanding sweepstakes gambling in Illinois.

Arroyo, 67, was charged with bribery, wire and mail fraud. The former House assistant majority leader received the maximum sentence recommended by the prosecuting U.S. attorneys, who called his crime a “blatant cash grab.”

“You took bribes, you corrupted yourself, you corrupted the political process,” U.S. District Judge Steven Seeger told Arroyo. “You tried to corrupt the law itself. You tried to change Illinois for a corrupt reason. … What you did was a frontal assault on the very idea of representative government. The public did not get what they deserve.”

According to court documents, Arroyo accepted bribes off the books worth at least $7,500 through his consulting firm, Spartacus 3, from a sweepstakes gaming machine company owned by James Weiss.

In return, Arroyo met and paid then state Sen. Terry Link $2,500 to support sweepstakes legislation in Springfield. Link recorded the exchange while wearing a wire in cooperation with the FBI.

“This is, this is the jackpot,” Arroyo was recorded telling Link.

Link has since pleaded guilty to tax evasion for using campaign funds for personal expenses and failing to report $50,000 from the sale of a Florida condo. He is expected to receive probation for his cooperation with the FBI.

Arroyo’s lawyers argued a prison sentence for the longtime Chicago Democrat would do little to address the pervasive public corruption in Illinois, calling the act akin to “draining Lake Michigan with a spoon.”

In new court filings May 25, Arroyo’s defense team even proposed he was not the “recipient of a bribe,” but rather a “conduit for the bribe,” suggesting Arroyo was only taking monthly payments from Weiss to give to an Illinois politician referred to in court documents as “State Senator A” but identified as Link by the Chicago Tribune.

“Without question, Mr. Arroyo did accept money from co-defendant James T. Weiss to provide to State Senator A as part of the bribery scheme,” Arroyo’s attorney Michael Gillespie wrote May 25. “He does not deny his role and participation in the instant offense and accepts full responsibility for his actions.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Durkin disagreed, asking the judge to “send a message” with Arroyo’s sentence, noting how he “tarnished” Chicago and the state of Illinois by “perpetuating the narrative that corruption is just part of the political landscape here.”

Seeger ultimately denied Arroyo’s plea for probation, saying in a lengthy speech that he sold out an already corruption-weary public and committed a “frontal assault on the very idea of representative government.”

“You were a corruption superspreader,” Seeger said near the end of a nearly four-hour hearing at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse. “The public did not get what they deserved. They voted for an honest representative, and what they got was a corrupt politician.”

On top of the federal prison time, Arroyo must also forfeit $32,500, the amount Seeger determined he had received in bribes from Weiss’ company. Arroyo must turn himself in by Aug. 31 to begin serving his sentence.

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