HomeBudget & Tax NewsFormer Illinois House Speaker Madigan Pleads Not Guilty to 22 Counts of...

Former Illinois House Speaker Madigan Pleads Not Guilty to 22 Counts of Corruption

(The Center Square) – Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan pleaded not guilty Wednesday to nearly two dozen counts of corruption included in a federal indictment that accuses him of using his elected position and political operation as a criminal enterprise for personal gain.

During a telephone hearing in front of Judge Jeffrey Cole, Madigan pleaded not guilty to all 22 charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Singh Bhachu explained the charges and potential punishments for each of the counts.

Michael McClain, 74, of Quincy, a former lawmaker, ComEd lobbyist and close confidant of Madigan, also pleaded not guilty to corruption charges during Wednesday’s hearing.

Both defendants waived a formal reading of the charges.

Federal prosecutors charged Madigan, 79, of 22 counts of corruption, including bribery, fraud and racketeering. Madigan was one of Illinois’ most powerful politicians. Until 2021, he controlled what legislation moved through the Illinois House as speaker and the finances of the Democratic Party of Illinois as chairman of the party.

Five attorneys from Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP have filed appearances on Madigan’s behalf. Sheldon Zenner will serve as Madigan’s lead attorney, according to court records. His campaign fund, Friends of Michael J. Madigan, spent $2 million with the law firm the day after Madigan resigned from the state legislature on Feb. 18, 2021.

If convicted of the most serious felony charges, Madigan could face up to 20 years in prison.

The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of $2.8 million in alleged illegal profits from Madigan.

The charges stem from Madigan’s and McClain’s dealings with the state’s largest utility, ComEd, along with other businesses that had wanted to influence legislation in Springfield. ComEd is the only company identified by name in the indictment.

In 2020, federal prosecutors and Exelon subsidiary ComEd reached a deferred prosecution agreement. As part of the agreement, the utility admitted it paid $1.3 million in jobs and contracts to associates of Madigan over nine years to influence the former House speaker. ComEd agreed to pay a $200 million fine. A former ComEd official, Fidel Marquez, pleaded guilty to bribery charges in September 2020.

Prosecutors also allege that former Chicago Ald. Danny Solis agreed to help steer business to Madigan’s personal law firm, Madigan & Getzendanner, which specializes in challenging property tax bills for its clients. In exchange, prosecutors claim Madigan agreed to ask Gov. J.B. Pritzker to appoint Solis to a state board position that would pay $93,926 a year after Solis retired from the Chicago City Council. Solis is referred to as Alderman A throughout the indictment.

Solis, who represented Chicago’s 25th ward from 1996 to 2019, began cooperating with federal prosecutors in 2014, according to the 106-page indictment.

Madigan has previously denied wrongdoing.

“I was never involved in any criminal activity,” Madigan said in a statement last week. “The government is attempting to criminalize a routine constituent service: job recommendations. That is not illegal, and these other charges are equally unfounded.”

Madigan’s case is next up on April 1.

Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.

Brett Rowland
Brett Rowland
Brett Rowland is a regional editor for The Center Square.



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