CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on the attempted extortion charge against Chicago Alderman Ed Burke (all times local):
A longtime Chicago alderman charged with attempted extortion for allegedly trying to shake down a fast-food chain says “I’ve done nothing wrong.”
Ed Burke spoke outside his home Thursday night. He says “I’m not guilty of anything” and “I look forward to trying this case in court.”
Burke is one of the most powerful members of Chicago’s City Council, having served for 50 years — including three decades as chairman of the council’s finance committee.
Authorities raided the Democrat’s offices at City Hall and in his southwest side ward in November.
He appeared briefly in court Thursday, shortly after the federal complaint against him was unsealed. It alleges Burke told executives of a fast-food chain who were seeking remodeling permits that they’d get them only if they signed on as clients of his private law firm.
An attorney for a powerful Chicago alderman charged with trying to shake down a major fast-food chain says he looks forward to demonstrating that his client did nothing wrong.
The lawyer for Ed Burke spoke to reporters as he left the Chicago federal courthouse Thursday afternoon following the alderman’s initial appearance. Burke turned himself in and was not jailed pending trial.
Charles Sklarsky said “the transaction” described in the complaint “does not make … extortion or an attempt to extort.” He declined further comment.
Burke is accused of trying to shake down a fast-food restaurant chain seeking city remodeling permits. The complaint does not name the company or the specific executives he allegedly tried to extort.
A judge told an influential Chicago alderman at his initial hearing that one condition of his release is that he gets rid of 23 guns at his offices and others at his home.
Ed Burke appeared at in Chicago federal court Thursday afternoon in a trademark pinstriped suit, pink tie and pocket square. The 75-year-old Democrat had surrendered to authorities earlier. He is also required to turn in his passport.
U.S. Magistrate Sheila Finnegan asked Burke if he understood the charge against him. He answered, “Yes, your honor.”
Burke is accused of trying to shake down a fast-food restaurant chain seeking city remodeling permits. He is widely considered one of the most powerful aldermen in Chicago history.
Charges were filed in a complaint on Wednesday but only unsealed Thursday. A grand jury could still hand down a formal indictment later.
One of the most powerful City Council members in Chicago history has been charged in a federal criminal complaint with attempted extortion for “corruptly soliciting business” for his private law firm.
If convicted, Alderman Ed Burke could face up to 20 years in prison. The charge unsealed Thursday follow November raids of the Democrat’s offices at City Hall and in his Southwest Side ward.
Burke’s law firm represented the high-rise tower that bears President Donald Trump’s name. There’s no indication the case is at all tied to his firm’s work for Trump.
The 75-year-old is one of the last of the old Chicago machine politicians. He’s been on the council for 50 years and has chaired its finance committee for the last three decades.