Prosecutors wade through business records in Illinois utility bribery case | Illinois

(The Center Square) – Business records show associates of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan were paid $4,000 to $5,000 a month through a utility company lobbyist.

Federal prosecutors contend those associates did little, if any, work for Commonwealth Edison, but were paid as part of a conspiracy to bribe Madigan in exchange for favorable legislation for the company in Springfield. 

Defense attorneys contend the records were part of normal operations for the lobbyists. They said their clients were trying to hide anything. 

Janet Gallegos, who worked as defendant Jay Doherty’s administrative assistant for decades, talked prosecutors through years’ worth of documents related to his business, Jay D. Doherty & Associates. 

Prosecutors showed that when new subcontractors were added to Doherty’s lobbying contract with ComEd, the amount of Doherty’s contract with the company increased by either the same amount or $1,000 to $1,500 more. 

Gallegos told jurors she didn’t know why the amounts fluctuated or why the contract amounts sometimes increased more than what Doherty paid to the subcontractors. 

Judge Harry Leinenweber said “We’re losing our audience” after the lunch break Tuesday afternoon and urged prosecutors move along.

Earlier in the trial, which entered its 13th day on Tuesday, cooperating witness Fidel Marquez, a former ComEd executive, said former Chicago alderman Frank Olivo, longtime Madigan campaign operative Ray Nice, former Cook County Recorder of Deeds Edward Moody, former state Rep. Eddie Acevedo and former Chicago alderman Mike Zalewski did little, if any, work for ComEd.

He said they were paid as part of eight-year effort to get Madigan’s support for key legislation that would affect the utility and its customers.

Much of the testimony Monday and Tuesday has focused on Doherty’s lobbying contracts. 

During cross-examination Tuesday, Gallegos said Doherty never asked her to cut corners, hide records or use coded language to disguise the work he was doing. She further said that Doherty was a hard worker. 

Prosecutors allege Doherty, along with former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker, and former lobbyist and state lawmaker Michael McClain gave out $1.3 million in jobs, contracts and payments to Madigan associates in exchange for Madigan’s backing in Springfield.

All four defendants have all pleaded “not guilty” to conspiracy, bribery, and willfully falsifying ComEd books and records.

Madigan, who resigned from the legislature after losing the House speakership in January 2021, has been charged with 23 counts of racketeering, bribery, and official misconduct in a separate case that could go to trial in April 2024.

This article First appeared in the center square

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