‘Tired of political corruption’ juror says after convicting four in Illinois bribery case

A jury found four former Commonwealth Edison executives and lobbyists guilty Tuesday as part of an eight-year bribery and conspiracy scheme centered around former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

In the highest-profile corruption case in Illinois in more than a decade, the jury convicted the defendants on all counts.

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“We’re tired of political corruption,” juror Amanda Schnitker Sayers said after the verdict. “We’re hoping this is a first step.”

The Chicago veterinarian put the blame on Madigan.

“He really did cause this all to happen,” she said.

Although Madigan wasn’t on trial, the longest serving state legislative leader in U.S. history has been charged with 23 counts of racketeering, bribery and official misconduct in a separate case that could go to trial in April 2024.

Prosecutors had alleged former state lawmaker and lobbyist Michael McClain, former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker and former contract lobbyist Jay Doherty were involved in a multi-year scheme to gain Madigan’s support for legislation that would benefit the utility’s bottom line. McClain will stand trial again with Madigan next year.

At trial, prosecutors presented secretly recorded videos, wiretapped phone calls and hundreds of emails to show how the four former ComEd executives and lobbyists were what they called “the grandmasters of corruption.”

Prosecutors said that the utility paid out $1.3 million in jobs, contracts and payments to associates of Madigan over eight years in exchange for favorable treatment on legislation in Springfield that would affect the finances of the state’s largest electric utility.

Defense attorneys said the four never bribed anyone and argued the conduct was legal lobbying, including efforts to build goodwill with elected officials. Juror Schnitker Sayers said that didn’t go over with jurors.

“We all agreed that lobbying is necessary … this is not lobbying,” she said.

She said evidence in the case was robust. She also said the jury was methodical in how it approached the charges and considered each element that prosecutors were required to prove for five days before reaching a verdict.

At sentencing, the defendants could face up to 20 years in prison. No sentencing date has been set.

Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Morris Pasqual declined to comment on questions about what needed to happen in Springfield to address widespread corruption in the state. Three recent Illinois governors have served time in prison, including Rod Blagojevich, who’s prison term was commuted in 2020 by then-President Donald Trump. Among other corruption-related charges, Blagojevich, a Democrat, was convicted of trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat held by President-elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder.

Pasqual also declined to comment on what his office would recommend once a sentencing hearing is set.

Madigan served in the Illinois House from 1971 to 2021. He served as speaker of the Illinois House from 1983 to 1995 and again from 1997 to 2021. He wielded additional power as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.

Madigan, who resigned after losing the House speakership in January 2021, has been charged with 23 counts of racketeering, bribery, and official misconduct alongside McClain in a separate case that could go to trial in April 2024.

ComEd agreed to pay $200 million in July 2020 to resolve a criminal investigation into the years-long bribery scheme. As part of a deferred prosecution agreement, ComEd admitted it arranged jobs, vendor subcontracts and payments in a bid to influence Madigan.


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