by James R. Scott, The Chicago Times
December 15, 2021
CHICAGO — During a brief hearing for Ald. Edward Burke, of the 14th Ward, and his co-defendants, longtime assistant Peter Andrews and Portage Park businessman Charles Cui, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Dow stated that he intended to complete his review in the coming weeks and set oral arguments in February.
Burke’s attorneys have urged Dow to throw out evidence taken by federal investigators through wiretaps on Burke’s cellphone and City Hall offices, which captured hundreds of conversations the longtime alderman conducted over the course of a year, claiming the evidence was obtained unlawfully.
Some of the accusations stem from a scheme hatched by disgraced former Ald. Danny Solis to push the contractor rebuilding the Old Post Office in Solis’ 25th Ward to engage Burke’s private law firm in exchange for municipal permits.
Burke’s attorneys accused the government of setting him up with the help of Solis and inappropriately eavesdropping to his phone calls in their response to the accusations filed against him in August.
The Department of Justice issued a 14-count indictment in May 2019 alleging Burke routinely exploited his position at City Hall to coerce companies doing business with the city to join his private law company.
Burke, 77, has pleaded not guilty to racketeering, bribery, and extortion allegations.
Racketeering accusations, which are often filed against members of the mafia or street gangs, claim a pattern of corruption that the victims are unaware of.
Solis agreed to assist federal agents in their investigation of Burke after being secretly recorded by a developer as part of another investigation and confronted by federal officials with evidence that he traded sex acts, Viagra, free weekend use of an Indiana farm once owned by Oprah Winfrey, and a steady stream of campaign contributions for City Council actions.
Burke was indicted more than two and a half years ago but has yet to go to trial, owing in part to the COVID-19 epidemic as well as the massive quantity of evidence in the case. According to court papers, agents intercepted 9,101 calls made or replied by Burke during the inquiry.