The Real Deal Chicago

Developer with checkered history helped feds gather evidence against Solis: report

Investigators were prepared to charge See Wong in a fraud scheme unless he recorded conversations with the alderman
January 30, 2019 11:00AM

See Wong and the site of Wong’s proposed hotel at 2150 South Clark Street and 2401 South Archer Avenue (Credit: YoChicago via YouTube, Wikipedia, and Google Maps)

A Chinatown developer with a history of alleged fraud became the FBI’s way into gathering evidence against Alderman Danny Solis (25th) in 2014.

In 2014, investigators threatened to charge See Wong for his involvement in a “fraudulent scheme” but offered him leniency in exchange for cooperation that would eventually have him secretly recording Solis and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan,  according to the Sun-Times.

Wong tried for years to line up financing for Chinatown projects including a 175-unit condo-hotel building at 2150 South Clark Street and a mixed-use development at 2401 South Archer Avenue, as well as an 80-unit condo building at 1349 South Wabash Avenue in the South Loop. Wong pre-sold some condos on the properties, but none were ever built.

He eventually partnered with businessman Kin Kuong Chong to propose a 60-unit hotel on a vacant lot at the corner of Clark Street and Archer Avenue. Wong and Chong both donated to Solis or his campaign in 2014, and Solis supported a zoning change that would have allowed the project to move forward. Wong recorded Solis introducing him to Madigan, and encouraging him to hire Madigan’s property tax law firm, Madigan & Getzendanner.

Solis announced Tuesday he is resigning as chairman of the City Council’s Zoning Committee, hours after the Sun-Times reported a series of corruption charges federal investigators had been prepared to hang on the alderman unless he cooperated.

Solis then wore a wire for the FBI to gather evidence against Alderman Ed Burke (14th), who was charged in an extortion scheme earlier this month. [Sun-Times] — Alex Nitkin