CHICAGO (CBS) -- Former Ald. Ed Vrdolyak has pleaded guilty to a tax charge tied to a tobacco settlement scheme.
The 81-year-old told the judge, "I help out when I'm needed," referring to what he does now at his law firm. The charge comes from an indictment accusing him of tax evasion tied to money he allegedly collected from a tobacco lawsuit settlement he never actually worked on.
Vrdolyak pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion, and he faces up to five years in prison. He is to be sentenced in July.
The former alderman, who earned the nickname "Fast Eddie" for his reputation for working backroom political deals while steering clear of criminal charges while he was a four-term alderman from 1971 to 1986, allegedly worked out a deal to collect up to $65 million in legal fees from the tobacco case, although the charges do not specify how much money he actually was paid or how much income tax he failed to pay.
According to the U.S. Attorney of the Northern District Of Illinois, Vrdolyak conceded that he helped another lawyer, co-defendant Daniel P. Soso, in evading income taxes from 1993 through 2004 and then again from 2008 through 2013. The money came from attorney fees received connected to a $9.2 billion settlement between the state and several tobacco companies in the 1990s.
He paid Soso between 2000 and 2005 around two million dollars, representing Soso's "agreed-upon share of the fees of the tobacco litigation."
Vrdolyak pleaded not guilty in 2016 to an indictment accusing him of tax evasion charges. The federal charge alleged he obstructed an IRS investigation into the tobacco settlement by hiding payments with Soso's assistance.
Soso, 67, pleaded guilty last month to one count of tax evasion in a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Robert Dow. He was ordered to pay about $1.8 million in restitution to the IRS, and faces a maximum prison sentence of five years.
He will be sentenced in June.
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