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Prosecution details former Chicago Ald. Ed Burke's alleged pressuring of Burger King franchisee

Prosecution details former Chicago Ald. Ed Burke's alleged pressuring of Burger King franchisee
Prosecution details former Chicago Ald. Ed Burke's alleged pressuring of Burger King franchisee 02:44

CHICAGO (CBS) – Former Chicago Ald. Ed Burke's defense team again signaled that they will call former alderman-turned-FBI informant Danny Solis to the stand next week.

And the jury could begin deliberations the week before Christmas.

The latest developments came as the prosecution laid out what they found when they raided Burke's office. CBS 2 Political Reporter Chris Tye had the latest on what jurors heard on Thursday.

Federal prosecutors showed the jury evidence that they said proved Burke's aldermanic team created problems for businesses that only they could solve. And in the process, they rubbed elbows and applied pressure big money clients who could hire Burke's private tax firm.

Until Thursday, what the federal government unearthed from the raid of Burke's office five years ago was kept in the dark. About 25 FBI agents stormed the then-14th Ward alderman's office, and took with them a trove of documents related to the remodeling of a Burger King at 40th and Pulaski in his ward.

Not long after the billion-dollar franchisee Shoukat Dhanani of Houston took over the restaurant, prosecutors said Burke's team started a dossier on the Dhanani group. Burke's team learned the group owned hundreds of stores nationwide.

Prosecutors alleged Burke was trying to land Dhanani's tax business by helping him with permit problems. For the first time, prosecutors showed evidence that Burke's team created roadblocks so they could fix them, and then fix up the Klafter & Burke tax firm with a new rich client along the way.

In a 2017 email, Burke's lieutenant, Pete Andrews, wrote to the alderman, "We stopped construction on the site.

"I recall that you mentioned to them since they are out of Houston, they should think about local legal representation for the zoning matters."

It was a pitch that the FBI listened to in real time.

Burke: "And we were going to talk about the real estate tax representation, and you're gonna have somebody get in touch with me so we can expedite your permits."

Dhanani: "I'm sorry, Mr. Burke, what was that last part?"

Burke: "You were going to have somebody call me so we can help you make sure you get your permits for the remodeling."

In the months-long effort to land Dhanani's business, Burke was heard forgetting how it was he first held up the permit.

Burke: "Why was I able to hold it up? What did they need from me?"

Andrews: "Well, they needed a driveway permits and everything signed off on."

Burke: "Well, I don't remember signing off of any driveway permit."

As the project languished, the store's owner lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales, and because they felt Burke's team was disorganized, Dhanani's team, who testified they felt pressure to hire Burke, never did.

While Burke never made a dime on the Dhanani Group, the charge in the case is attempted extortion, as the prosecution laid out the scheme, they said shows a deep intent to extort.

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