CHICAGO — A federal jury today convicted former City of Chicago Alderman EDWARD M. BURKE on racketeering, bribery, and extortion charges for abusing his position while an alderman to solicit and extort private legal work and other benefits from companies and individuals with business before the city.
Burke, 79, of Chicago, was found guilty on 13 counts: racketeering; corruptly soliciting, demanding, accepting, or agreeing to accept things of value; using an interstate facility to promote unlawful activity; and attempted extortion. A co-defendant, real estate developer CHARLES CUI, 52, of Lake Forest, Ill., was found guilty on five counts: corruptly offering or agreeing to give things of value; using an interstate facility to promote unlawful activity; and knowingly making a false statement to the FBI. A third defendant, PETER J. ANDREWS, 74, of Chicago, an aide in Burke’s 14th Ward office, was acquitted of all charges against him.
U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Kendall set sentencing for June 17, 2024, for Cui, and June 19, 2024, for Burke. The racketeering and extortion counts are punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison. The counts for corruptly soliciting and accepting things of value are punishable by up to ten years, while the maximum for both using an interstate facility to promote unlawful activity and making a false statement to the FBI is five years.
The verdicts were announced by Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert W. “Wes” Wheeler, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI. The City of Chicago Inspector General’s Office and the Amtrak Office of Inspector General provided valuable assistance. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah Streicker, Diane MacArthur, Timothy Chapman, and Sushma Raju, as well as Amarjeet Bhachu, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Public Corruption Section.
Evidence at the six-week trial in U.S. District Court in Chicago revealed that Burke corruptly solicited work for his private law firm from companies involved in redevelopment projects at the Old Main Post Office in downtown Chicago and a Burger King restaurant on the city’s Southwest Side. Burke also corruptly attempted to assist Cui with a development on the city’s Northwest Side shortly after Cui told Burke that he would hire Burke’s private law firm, Klafter & Burke, for legal work. Klafter & Burke specialized in seeking property tax reductions for corporate clients.
The evidence further revealed that Burke threatened to oppose an admission fee increase at the Field Museum in Chicago because the museum failed to respond to Burke’s inquiry about obtaining an internship at the museum for a child of Burke’s friend.
Cui was convicted of steering the private legal work to Burke in an effort to influence and reward him in connection with permitting and tax increment financing for Cui’s development.
The corruption schemes occurred in 2016, 2017, and 2018, while Burke was Alderman of the 14th Ward and Chairman of the Chicago City Council’s Finance Committee. Burke served in the City Council from 1969 until earlier this year.