Veteran Chicago Democrat Found Guilty of Racketeering and Bribery Charges

( – Following a six-week long trial and 23 hours of deliberations, former Democrat Chicago Alderman Ed Burke, 79, was found guilty Dec. 22 of attempted extortion, racketeering and bribery.

Burke was convicted for 13 of 14 charges stemming from a May 2019 federal indictment that accused him of using his position as a member of the Chicago City Council to direct the business of a private developer toward his law firm, Klafter & Burke, which specialized in property tax appeals. The developer, 601W Companies LLC of New York, was working on the $600 million renovation project of Chicago’s Old Post Office, a Midwest liquor store chain known as Binny’s Beverage Depot, and a Burger King in the 14th Ward.

According to prosecutors, Burke also allegedly threatened to block Chicago’s famed Field Museum from raising admission fees because it did not give an internship to the daughter of former Alderman Terry Gabinski, whom Burke had recommended.

Burke was also accused of shutting down the remodeling of a Burger King, owned by Zohaib Dhanani, who failed to respond to Burke’s request to employ his law firm.

The jury, made up of nine women and three men, found Burke guilty despite FBI informant and former Alderman Danny Solis not being called to the stand by the prosecution. For two years, Solis wore a wire while the case was investigated by federal authorities. The recordings, which included Burke saying the developers would not get “favorable treatment from him without their business” were heard by jurors during the trial.

Burke, who resigned from the position as an alderman in May, faces a maximum sentence of 110 years in prison. The judge set his sentencing hearing for June 19, though the date is expected to change as it is a federal holiday.

One of Burke’s co-defendants, Charles Cui, was also convicted by the jury for lying to the FBI and bribery. The jury acquitted a longtime Burke aide and second co-defendant, Peter Andrews.

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