Alderman Burke pleads not guilty to extorting developers

The alderman is accused of forcing developers to hire his private law firm in exchange for help with their projects

Alderman Ed Burke (Credit: Wikipedia)
Alderman Ed Burke (Credit: Wikipedia)

Alderman Ed Burke pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning to charges he extorted developers to hire his law firm in exchange for supporting their projects.

Also pleading not guilty to the charges in federal court were Burke aide Peter Andrews and developer Charles Cui, according to the Sun-Times.

A federal grand jury last week indicted the three men in the corruption case, which accuses the once-powerful Burke of leaning on developers including 601W Companies to hire his property tax appeals law firm, Klafter & Burke, in order to win his support.

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Andrews is accused of helping Burke with the scheme, while Cui is accused of hiring Klafter & Burke in order to get the alderman’s help resolving a problem with a sign permit for a Northwest Side retail project.

Among the allegations against Burke in the indictment are charges he pushed 601W to hire his firm for help with the $800 million Old Post Office redevelopment, and then vowed to provide no more help to the firm until they complied.

“The cash register has not rung yet,” he said, according to the indictment. That appeared to mean because the alderman’s firm hadn’t been hired, the money was not coming in. Burke added later he wasn’t “fond of the way they’ve [601W] conducted themselves up until this point, and as far as I’m concerned they can go fuck themselves.” [Sun-Times]John O’Brien