Chicago history books will remember Edward Burke as the dean of the City Council, a storyteller armed with tales of yore, a judge maker and a political giant. Now, the city's longest-serving council member will also be remembered as a brazen extortionist who used the trappings of his office to squeeze developers big and small, complaining with impunity that “they can go f--- themselves” when they didn’t play ball, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. That’s the image a federal jury embraced Thursday when it found Burke guilty of racketeering, bribery and attempted extortion after nearly 23 hours of deliberations at the end of a historic corruption trial for which Chicago waited five years.
“This case was about bribery and extortion occurring at the highest levels of Chicago city government,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Morris Pasqual. “In this case, defendant Burke had his hand out for money. He tied the giving of official action by him to the giving of money to him.” A panel of nine women and three men found that Burke committed racketeering acts in all four schemes outlined in his 2019 indictment. They involved two Chicago landmarks — the massive Old Post Office straddling the Eisenhower Expressway and the Field Museum — as well as a Burger King in Burke’s 14th Ward and a Binny’s Beverage Depot. They did so after prosecutors chose not to call FBI mole Danny Solis to the witness stand. Given that their strategy paid off — Solis was instead called to testify by Burke’s defense attorneys — it raises questions about whether Solis will take the stand in the coming trial of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. Jurors saw secret recordings Solis made for the feds. Burke could be seen and heard discussing his efforts to strong-arm the developers of Chicago’s Old Post Office. Some video recordings were made within Burke’s City Hall office.