(Daily360.com) – Stories of political corruption in the city of Chicago seem as old as the city itself. Another sad chapter in the book of Windy City corruption has been written. Ed Burke a former city alderman has been convicted on 13 of 14 charges brought against him in a 2019 federal indictment.
Burke was one of the longest-serving and most powerful politicians in the history of Chicago. His six-week trial for bribery and extortion shed light on schemes the alderman hatched in order to bolster his own wealth and power at the expense of local businesses. He would steer business to his own private law firm by blackmailing the owners to hire his firm or lose business, contracts or other city necessities they may need like permits.
In particular Burke was shaking down a developer performing the $600 million Chicago Post Office renovations. Chicago alderman Danny Solis, agreed to wear a wire for federal authorities in order to record Burke’s lawbreaking ways. In one recording Burke is asking Solis “Did we land, uh, tuna”, his way of asking if the post office developer succumbed to their pressure and hired Burke’s law firm. Burke is heard in another recording saying any developer who does not employ his law firm can “go f— themselves”.
Other schemes included nepotism and political friendships. Burke let one developer know that should they want to settle a dispute with Amtrak, his friend that sits on an influential board could help if that developer gave business to Burke in return. There’s a recording in which Burke talks about making that board member’s daughter a judge, and that another of his daughters is friends with Burke’s own daughter. He ends describing this chain of connections by saying “Chicago is a very small town.”
Zohaib Dhanani, the owner of a Burger King franchise, detailed how after ignoring Burke’s request to hire his law firm he was hit with tax and permit violations. Dhanani said his business was put in danger of being shut down and he could see no other reason other than not engaging Burke’s law firm.
Burke now faces up to 110 years in federal prison following his convictions. He was last seen leaving the courthouse after the verdict was read with his wife Anne Burke, a retired Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice.
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