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Illinois' 'ComEd Four' Convicted After Long Bribery Trial

A federal jury in Chicago returned guilty verdicts in the criminal bribery trial of the "ComEd Four," former insiders with Illinois' largest energy utility, Commonwealth Edison, reports Courthouse News Service. The defendants were ex-ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, ex-ComEd executive John Hooker, former ComEd lobbyist Michael McClain and former City Club of Chicago President Jay Doherty, who performed consulting work for ComEd. All faced multiple bribery and fraud charges stemming from their alleged involvement in ComEd's admitted bribery scheme in the Illinois Legislature between 2011 and 2019. Jurors deliberated for five days before reaching a verdict Tuesday, finding all four defendants guilty on all of the bribery, conspiracy and fraud counts they each faced.

Juror Amanda Schnitker Sayers said there multiple pieces of evidence, including recorded conversations between the defendants, that convinced the jury to convict the Four. "There were at least three conversations in which [the defendants] were expressing their pride in themselves for this corrupt structure," Schnitker Sayers said. "That did not sit well with us." Each defendant potentially faces decades in prison. The trial, which began in mid-March, revolved around the their relationship to ex-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, the scion of a once-powerful Chicago political dynasty who was one of the most influential figures in Illinois politics. Now he sits at the center of a sprawling anti-corruption campaign led by federal prosecutors. In 2020, prosecutors secured an admission from ComEd that it had worked to bribe Madigan for close to a decade in return for his support of legislation that bolstered the company's profitability. The multibillion-dollar company was offered a deferred prosecution agreement and a $200 million fine for its cooperation. ComEd reported high profits while the bribery scheme was underway, with an independent report in 2020 finding the company made $4.7 billion more in revenue between 2013 and 2019 than it would have had laws it favored not passed.


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