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Longtime Chicago politician Ed Burke gets 2-year sentence in corruption case



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Added statement by U.S. attorney in paragraph 3

By David Thomas

June 24 (Reuters) -A federal judge in Chicago on Monday sentenced former city alderman Edward Burke, the longest-serving alderperson in Chicago history, to two years in prison after he was found guilty of racketeering, bribery and extortion.

The sentence is a mixed bag for prosecutors, who initially sought a 10-year sentence, and the 80-year-old Burke, who wanted home confinement. U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall also fined Burke, a Democrat, $2 million.

"When an alderman fails to discharge his duties with honesty and integrity, he betrays not only the citizens of Chicago, but his fellow public officials who do their jobs the right way," Acting Chicago U.S. Attorney Morris Pasqual said in a statement.

Members of Burke's legal team, which included attorneys from Jenner & Block, Loeb & Loeb and Gair Gallo Eberhard, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Burke abused his position as an alderman on the Chicago City Council, where he was the longtime finance committee chair, to steer property tax appeals work to his private law firm, Klafter & Burke, prosecutors said.

Chicago news outlets often described Burke as one of the most powerful men in the city. He is married to former Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke.

Burke was first elected to the Chicago City Council in 1969, representing the 14th ward on the city's southwest side. After his indictment in 2019, he opted not to seek re-election in 2023.

The jury delivered its guilty verdict in December, after four days of deliberations and a six-week trial, which included undercover recordings by another former Chicago alderman.

Prosecutors said Burke pressured developers to hire his law firm for their property tax appeals by withholding his approval for permits unless they became clients.

Burke also threatened to block a bid by Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History to increase admission fees because the museum did not respond to his inquiry about an internship for his friend's child, prosecutors said.

Burke and his co-defendants denied the charges. He retired from the practice of law earlier this year.

Prior to his sentencing, Burke submitted hundreds of letters of support from practicing attorneys, former elected officials, and retired law enforcement officials.

The case is United States v. Burke, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, No. 1:19-cr-00322

For United States: Sarah Streicker, Amarjeet Bhachu, Diane MacArthur, Timothy Chapman and Sushma Raju of the U.S. Attorney's Office

For Edward Burke: Charles Sklarsky of Jenner & Block; Joseph Duffy of Loeb & Loeb; and Chris Gair of Gair Gallo Eberhard


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