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Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan indicted on federal racketeering charges

Mike Madigan Charged With 22 Counts, Accused Of Funneling $2 Million Over The Years 03:14

CHICAGO (CBS/AP) -- Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has been indicted on federal racketeering charges.

Madigan, 79, is charged with 22 counts. They include racketeering conspiracy and individual counts of using interstate facilities in aid of bribery, wire fraud, and attempted extortion.

U.S. Attorney John Lausch announced Wednesday that a federal grand jury returned the indictment on Wednesday. Madigan is accused of using his official position to solicit personal financial gains for himself and his associates.

Madigan served as state representative representing the 22nd state House District; committeeman for the 13th Ward in Chicago - a position he still holds; chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party and the 13th Ward Democratic Organization, and a partner at the Chicago law firm Madigan & Getzendanner. The charges said Madigan and his "Madigan Enterprise" abused these positions for personal gain.

The indictment claims that Madigan directed the activities of his longtime confidant Michael McClain, who in turn carried out illegal activities at the behest of Madigan. McClain is charged as a co-defendant in the indictment.

Read The Indictment

They are accused of a bribery scheme involving multiple businesses - including ComEd - in which the businesses paid Madigan's associates as a reward for their loyalty to Madigan. Lausch said Madigan used his various political positions as part of a long-term scheme to arrange for no-show jobs for his political workers, and personal benefits for himself.

"Madigan and McClain unlawfully requested that various companies with interest in state legislation, including utility company Commonwealth Edison, paid Madigan's associates as a reward for their loyalty to Madigan; at times in return for performing little to no legitimate work for those businesses," Lausch said. "The indictment also accuses Madigan of engaging in multiple schemes to secure business for his law firm, including work from parties with business before the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago."

"Unfortunately, this type of criminal conduct drastically undermines the public's confidence in our government," Lausch said continued. "Simply put, it's not a good thing."

Legal Analyst Irv Miller: Madigan Won't Be Pleading Guilty 01:17


Madigan's attorneys, Sheldon Zenner and Gil Soffer of Katten Muchin Rosenman, issued a statement saying Madigan was never involved in any criminal activity and prosecutors have overreached.

"Neither the law nor the facts support these baseless charges, and the evidence will prove it. Mr. Madigan vehemently rejects the notion that he was involved in criminal activity - before, during or after his long career as a public servant," the attorneys said in a statement. "The government's overreach in charging him with these alleged crimes is groundless, and we intend to prevail in court."

The attorneys also issued this statement from Madigan himself:

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

"Throughout my 50 years as a public servant, I worked to address the needs of my constituents, always keeping in mind the high standards required and the trust the public placed in me.
I adamantly deny these accusations and look back proudly on my time as an elected official, serving the people of Illinois."

CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov spoke with Zenner about an hour after the indictment came down. He said they had some advance notice the indictment was pending.

Madigan was the longest-serving state House speaker in modern U.S. history and was nicknamed the "Velvet Hammer" for his insistence on strict party discipline. A procession of top state politicians, including three governors, has been charged during his tenure, but politicians long believed the savvy Madigan would never be among them.

"We have a very stubborn public corruption problem here in Illinois. Rooting out and prosecuting public corruption has been and will always be a top priority of this office," Lausch said.

How Federal Prosecutors Finally Got To Mike Madigan 02:28


Over the past couple of years, federal prosecutors have been drawing closer and closer to Madigan. Prosecutors all but named him outright in ComEd's deferred prosecution agreement in the summer of 2020 - in which the utility admitted to the bribery scheme that gave those jobs, money, and contracts to Madigan associates.

Madigan resigned his seat as a state representative in February 2021, little more than a month after surrendering the gavel as Speaker of the Illinois House. He also resigned as Illinois Democratic Party chairman.

Madigan lost his seat as Illinois House Speaker only after he was implicated in 2020 in the sweeping ComEd bribery scandal.

Madigan had been under fire for months over the bribery scandal. In July 2020, federal prosecutors accused ComEd of a yearslong bribery scheme that sought to curry Madigan's favor in advancing legislation relaxing state regulation of ComEd's rates by directing $1.3 million in payments to the speaker's associates. ComEd acknowledged it stood to benefit by more than $150 million from that legislation.

ComEd has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the feds, and has agreed to pay a $200 million fine, enact a number of reforms, and cooperate with investigators in exchange for prosecutors dropping charges in 2023 if ComEd lives up to its obligations.

In November 2020, McClain, former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, former ComEd executive and lobbyist John Hooker, and former lobbyist Jay Doherty were charged with bribery conspiracy, bribery, and willfully falsifying ComEd books and records. They have pleaded not guilty. That followed the September 2020 guilty plea by a former ComEd vice president, Fidel Marquez.

In May 2021, former Madigan Chief of Staff Timothy Mapes was also indicted on charges of making false statements to a grand jury investigating public corruption allegations. The indictment against Mapes claimed a federal grand jury was investigating efforts by Madigan and someone working on his behalf - who was not named in the indictment, but was suggested to be McClain - to obtain private jobs, contracts, and payments for others from ComEd and to influence and reward Madigan.

With specific regard to ComEd, the indictment accused Madigan of conspiring with McClain, Pramaggiore, Hooker, and Doherty to solicit and accept bribes for Madigan's influence in passing favorable legislation. They also conspired to circumvent internal controls at ComEd and its parent company, Exelon, to falsify records.

Madigan and McClain are also accused of conspiring with ComEd so the utility gave jobs, vendor contracts and subcontracts, and direct payments to Madigan associates who had performed political work for him. Among those implicated in that allegation, though not specifically named or accused of wrongdoing, was former Ald. Frank Olivo (13th).

Among other allegations, the indictment claimed Madigan Enterprise also had people associated specifically with the 13th Ward placed in the ComEd internship program, and had an associate appointed to the ComEd Board.

"This has been some time coming where we have continued to look at the evidence, follow the evidence where it leads, and then ultimately bring charges when we think we could prove those charges beyond a reasonable doubt," Lausch said.

The indictment also claims that in 2018, that Madigan agreed to accept business steered by then-Ald. Danny Solis (25th) his private law firm, and in exchange, agreed to advise then-Gov. Bruce Rauner to appoint Solis to a state board. Solis was Chairman of the City Council Committee on Zoning, Landmarks & Building Standards at the time, and was working as an informant at the direction of law enforcement - which Madigan and McClain did not know at the time, prosecutors said.

So how did the feds finally get Madigan? Remember, he's a man who never texted, or sent emails. The indictment documents Solis' involvement well beyond the state board appointment.

The indictment reveals that Ald. Solis helped in the investigation. Solis, referenced in the indictment as "Alderman A," recorded several conversations with Madigan regarding a parcel of land owned by the State of Illinois in the Chinatown community - which was used as a parking lot.

In July 2017, Madigan and Solis discussed the transfer for the parcel from the state to the City of Chicago, so it could be transferred in turn for possible development, the indictment said.

The indictment said Solis told Madigan that if Madigan could take care of the Chinatown land transfer, the developer would "appreciate it" and would give Madigan tax work for his private law firm, the indictment said.

Solis himself was being watched by the feds at the same time he was cooperating, as it was revealed that contributors supplied him with money, Viagra, and sex acts in a separate case.

No one has heard from or seen Solis since he cooperated with federal agents. He is now a key witness against Madigan.

Madigan was the longest-serving state house speaker in U.S. history.

As speaker, the ever-confident Madigan tended to shrug off the political scandal of the day. A spokeswoman for Madigan last year denied the ComEd-related allegations and said Madigan would cooperate with the investigation "which he believes will clearly demonstrate that he has done nothing criminal or improper."

That wasn't good enough for members of his House Democratic caucus, many of whom weren't born when Madigan was first inaugurated in 1971. Despite his determination to win a 19th term as speaker in January, support peeled away and he was unable to garner the 60 votes needed to retain the gavel. Relegated to the rank and file of the 118-member House, he resigned his seat effective Feb. 28, 2021, He resigned as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois on Feb. 22.

Madigan, the son of a Chicago precinct captain, became House speaker in 1983. He was a throwback to the style of machine politics for which Illinois was once famous.

Madigan wielded power through stern control of his caucus and meticulous knowledge of legislation, determining which bills received hearings and which quietly died. His loyalists received choice legislative assignments and campaign cash. He controlled the drawing of district boundaries after a census.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker issued the following statement late Wednesday:

"An indictment of this magnitude is a condemnation of a system infected with promises of pay-to-play, and the era of corruption and self-dealing among Illinois politicians must end. The conduct alleged in this indictment is deplorable and a stark violation of the public's trust. Michael Madigan must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

"Ultimately, every person in elected office is responsible for doing the right thing - and not lining their own pockets. I am fully committed to eradicate the scourge of corruption from our political system, and today's indictment is an important step in cleaning up Illinois. I have faith that our justice system will help restore the public's trust in government.

"When I ran for office, I made clear that I would be beholden to no one, and that I would serve the best interests of the people of Illinois. I have upheld that vow. For the past three years, my administration has made clear that such abuses will not be tolerated, and we've tightened our ethics laws. I will continue to work with the General Assembly to restore the public's trust."

This statement was issued by House Speaker Emmanuel "Chris" Welch (D-Westchester), who succeeded Madigan as speaker:

"As Chair of the Special Investigating Committee, I made it clear that this matter needed to be handled in a court of law, completely separate from the legislature. As is evident by this federal indictment, the full weight of the justice system was needed to ensure all charges are investigated properly and thoroughly. At my direction, the Office of the Speaker has fully cooperated with the investigation and will continue to do so."

Welch chaired the special investigative committee into Madigan's alleged wrongdoing. He later faced criticism about how he handled the probe.

On Wednesday night, he deflected.

"It's important to focus on the work that this Legislature is doing under new leadership, and part of my job is to get out there and show the people of this great state that it is a new day in Springfield," Welch said.

But Madigan is the latest in a long list of Illinois politicians to fall to the feds, and people may be skeptical about it really being a new day in Springfield.

Madigan's arraignment is set for Wednesday, March 9. Zenner said there was still some question as to whether the hearing would be in person or on Zoom.

Our request to talk to Madigan or his attorney was denied.

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