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Ed Burke trial: Jury hears recordings of Burke aide, co-defendant on holding up driveway permits

Burke trial: Juror hears recordings of aide talking about holding up driveway permits
Burke trial: Juror hears recordings of aide talking about holding up driveway permits 03:11

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The jury in the trial of former Ald. Ed Burke (14th) on Friday heard wiretap recordings of Burke joking with a political friend about holding up driveway permits.

The permits – and how the city's longest-serving alderman is accused of holding them up for a would-be client – are central to the federal extortion case against Burke.

As CBS 2 Political Reporter Chris Tye reported, federal prosecutors on Friday were near the end of presenting their case against Burke, his assistant Pete Andrews and business developer Charles Cui.

On Friday, FBI agents who orchestrated the raids on Burke's City Hall and ward offices in 2018 laid out what was said to them that day. The conversations helped shape this case against Burke.

Just as the simultaneous raids began at Burke's City Hall and ward offices five years ago, two FBI agents arrived at the Mount Greenwood home of longtime Burke aide Pete Andrews.

They had questions about the billionaire father and son — Shoukat and Zohaib Dhanani — who had taken over a Burger King in Burke's ward.

The feds said Andrews and Burke tried to shake down the franchisees by creating driveway permit problems — and then offered to solve them. In exchange, Burke wanted his law firm, Klafter & Burke, to land their lucrative tax business.

Jurors heard the following exchange between Andrews and an FBI agent about the Dhananis and the Burger King.

FBI Agent: "Ever, ever have contact with these two guys?"

Andrews: "I don't know who they are."

FBI Agent: "We heard they have done some business in the ward here."

Andrews: "This ward?"

FBI Agent: "Yeah."

The exchange went on:

FBI Agent: "Take a good look sir."

Andrews: "I am. I am. I, uh, uh."

FBI Agent: "I think it has to do with a Burger King restaurant. Does this sound familiar?"

Andrews: "Uh no.... well, I, I mean, you…"

FBI Agent: "If you have, you know, what you don't want to do is, is, say no, and you do actually know them.... just want you to tell the truth."

Andrews: "They may have come up to our office or something but, uh, maybe. I don't know. I don't recall."

The indictment against Andrews says he denied ever hearing the Dhanans' names. But in court, Andrews' attorneys say the agents mispronounced their last names, - and showed pictures of the Dhananis that look different from Andrews' meeting with them.

Andrews' attorneys added that the meeting occurred 17 months earlier and lasted 24 minutes. They also pointed out the feds confused Andrews when they said, "Yes, this ward." The implication, Andrews' team said, was that they meant the 19th Ward where they were at the time - at Andrews' home – not the 14th Ward where the Burger King was located.

In a separate wiretap recording, Burke is heard on tape with political consultant Gery Chico:

Chico: "Bulley and Andrews are just OK, but don't seem to quite get the fundraising game. 'We got to drag their asses along the way."

Burke: "Well, maybe if they don't have any access to the property because the driveway isn't legal, they might get the message."

Later Friday, the afternoon was filled with testimony related to a Binny's Beverage Depot sign in the Portage Park neighborhood - and the developer who tried to have Burke help him.

Jurors saw an email from developer and co-defendant Charles Cui, which included a photo of the sign that city officials say was PhotoShopped in an effort to get a fresh permit for it to keep Binny's as a tenant.

Former alderman turned informant Danny Solis expected to testify next week, with the jury starting deliberations the following week.

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