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Judge tells key witness in Madigan corruption case he handed defense ‘a gift’

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(The Center Square) – A key witness in former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s upcoming corruption trial was caught lying on a federal form to buy a gun, a major blow for prosecutors and a surprise boon for Madigan’s defense team.

Fidel Marquez, the former ComEd executive who cooperated with federal investigators in the corruption probe, tried to buy a gun in March in another state. When he filled out the federal form, he answered “no” to the question that asked if he was “under indictment or information in any court for a felony.” Marquez also responded “no” to a question on the form that asked if he had been convicted of a felony.

Marquez pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit bribery in 2020. That felony popped up during the gun purchase process.

“The mandatory review process flagged the charge in the information, and the transaction was denied through the review process,” prosecutors wrote in a request for a hearing on the matter. “Marquez did not receive the firearm he attempted to purchase.”

Judge Mary Rowland admonished Marquez during a court appearance on Friday, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.

“The thing that you have is your credibility – that’s it,” the judge told Marquez during a brief status hearing, the Tribune reported. “And you have now handed a gift to Madigan’s defense attorneys. It is a first-year law student’s dream, basically, to do a cross-examination like this.”

Marquez served as a crucial witness for federal prosecutors during the trial of four former ComEd executives and lobbyists last year. He spent five days on the stand in that case. A jury convicted all four defendants in that 2023 trial. Sentencing in that case has been delayed, but could continue later this year after a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court in an unrelated case that focuses on part of the federal bribery statute.

Madigan, who resigned after losing the House speakership in January 2021, has been charged with 23 counts of racketeering, bribery, and official misconduct in a case that could go to trial in October. Madigan has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.

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