Powerful Chicago Democrat Found Guilty On Federal Racketeering, Corruption Charges

The Democrat had served on the Windy City's council since 1969.
Then-Ald. Ed Burke listens during a City Council meeting, March 15, 2023, at Chicago City Hall.
(Getty Images)

Edward Burke, a former Chicago City Council member who was considered one of the city’s most powerful people, was found guilty on Thursday of racketeering, bribery, and attempted extortion.

Burke was convicted on 13 of the 14 corruption charges against him in a federal corruption trial in which prosecutors accused him of leveraging his government position to pressure private developers into hiring his law firm.

Until earlier this year, the Democrat, 79, had served on the Windy City’s council since 1969, making him the longest-serving council member.

A jury deliberated for nearly 24 hours before convicting Burke on charges including racketeering, a charge originally meant for members of organized crime, demanding, accepting, or agreeing to accept things of value, attempted extortion, corruptly soliciting, and using an interstate facility to promote unlawful activity. The jury acquitted Burke on one count of conspiracy.

The corruption schemes were carried out between 2016 and 2018.

One episode prosecutors focused on was Burke’s 2017 “shakedown” of the owners of a Burger King franchise in his old ward. Prosecutors said Burke stalled the Burger King’s building and property permits as he tried to get the owners to hire his law firm for tax business.

“I will play as hard ball as I can,” a political aide said on a recorded call after Burke informed him that he was “playing nice” with the Burger King owners but that they never got back to him.

Burke was also accused of turning up the heat on others, including the developer working on a $600 million renovation of Chicago’s historic Old Post Office and a liquor store chain called Binny’s Beverage Depot.

Another former alderman, Danny Solis, wore a wire for the FBI for two years in order to avoid prosecution.

“Did we land the, uh, tuna?” Burke asked Solis on a call, apparently referring to getting his law firm the business of the Old Post Office developer.

Burke also threatened to block an admission fee increase for Chicago’s Field Museum after they failed to give an internship to the daughter of one of his friends, a former alderman.

“This case was about bribery and extortion occurring at the highest levels of Chicago city government,” said Morris Pasqual, acting U.S. Attorney for Chicago in the wake of the verdict.

“The public voted Mr. Burke into office, and they trusted that he would be guided by and motivated by pursuing the common good. He betrayed that trust,” Pasqual said.

After the verdict, Burke left the courthouse with his wife, former Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Burke, without commenting to the media.

Burke’s sentencing is scheduled for June 19.

He faces potentially decades in prison. The racketeering and extortion counts are punishable by up to 20 years, while the corruptly soliciting and bribery charges are punishable by up to 10 years.

Create a free account to join the conversation!

Already have an account?

Log in

Got a tip worth investigating?

Your information could be the missing piece to an important story. Submit your tip today and make a difference.

Submit Tip
Download Daily Wire Plus

Don't miss anything

Download our App

Stay up-to-date on the latest
news, podcasts, and more.

Download on the app storeGet it on Google Play
The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Powerful Chicago Democrat Found Guilty On Federal Racketeering, Corruption Charges