Former Chief of Staff to Speaker of the Illinois House Convicted of Lying Under Oath to Federal Grand Jury
CHICAGO — A federal jury in Chicago today convicted the manager of a sweepstakes gaming company of participating in a bribery scheme with an Illinois state lawmaker.
JAMES T. WEISS, 44, of River Grove, Ill., was convicted on all counts against him: three counts of honest services wire fraud, two counts of bribery, one count of honest services mail fraud, and one count of making false statements to the FBI. The jury returned its verdicts after a trial in U.S. District Court in Chicago. U.S. District Judge Steven C. Seeger set sentencing for Oct. 11, 2023.
The convictions were announced by Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Robert W. “Wes” Wheeler, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI; and Justin Campbell, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division. The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christine M. O’Neill and Sean Franzblau.
Evidence at trial revealed that in 2018 and 2019 Weiss paid thousands of dollars in bribes to then-Illinois State Rep. Luis Arroyo. The bribes were paid from Weiss’s gaming company, Collage LLC, in the form of checks made payable to Spartacus 3 LLC, Arroyo’s private lobbying firm in Chicago. In exchange for those bribes, Arroyo promoted legislation in the Illinois General Assembly related to the sweepstakes industry and advised other state lawmakers to support the legislation.
In August 2019, Arroyo offered to have payments made to an Illinois state senator in return for the senator’s support of sweepstakes-related legislation. On Aug. 22, 2019, Arroyo met with the senator at a restaurant in Skokie, Ill., and provided him with a $2,500 check from Collage as an initial bribe payment, with the expectation that the senator would receive similar payments for 12 months. Arroyo told the senator, “This is the jackpot,” and then wrote the name of the senator’s nominee on the company’s check. The nominee’s name was used for the purpose of concealing the illicit payment.
Arroyo, who represented the 3rd District in the Illinois House of Representatives from 2006 to 2019, pleaded guilty to his role in the bribery scheme and was sentenced in 2022 to nearly five years in federal prison.