Old Post Office revamp takes focus in Ed Burke corruption trial

Evidence features a recording from government mole and ex-alderman Daniel Solis

Old Post Office Revamp Takes Focus in Ed Burke Trial
Alderman Daniel Solis and former alderman Edward Burke with the Old Post Office (LinkedIn, Kate Gardiner, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons, Google Maps, Getty)

Former Chicago alderman Edward Burke’s alleged attempts to snag business from developer 601W’s extensive repositioning of the Old Post Office property took center stage in the politician’s federal corruption trial this week.

Jurors heard a secretly recorded conversation between Burke and Daniel Solis, another ex-alderman who acted as a government mole and played a crucial role in the indictment of Burke. He served as 14th Ward alderman from 1969 to 2023, and faces 14 charges of racketeering, bribery, extortion and conspiracy.

The conversation, which took place in 2016, delved into the $600 million renovation of the 2.5 million-square-foot Old Post Office building that transformed it into a modern workplace, the Chicago Tribune reported. Burke allegedly tried to shake down 601W, the developer behind the project, to hire his property-tax law business, Klafter & Burke.

Prosecutors described the Old Post Office renovation as a significant financial opportunity for Burke. After investigating Solis, the FBI confronted him with evidence of accepting money and favors from developers with business before the Zoning Committee, which Solis chaired. Solis cooperated and recorded conversations, bringing law enforcement attention to Burke in the process.

One recorded meeting in Burke’s City Hall office involved Solis discussing the project with lead developer Harry Skydell and then-mayor Rahm Emanuel. Solis claimed to have reached an understanding that all issues related to the project would go through him. In subsequent calls, Burke allegedly sought “face time” with Skydell, mentioning a potential marketing arrangement to allegedly assure Solis he would be taken care of financially, the publication reported.

“I’m a believer in sharing the wealth,” Burke said, adding that they had to “figure out a way that it can be done so that there’s no pitfalls, legally.”

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

As part of the investigation, Solis, who was already cooperating in an investigation of then-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, recorded numerous conversations with Burke (Madigan has also been indicted in a separate federal probe, and denied wrongdoing).

The defense attempted to tarnish Solis’s credibility, highlighting FBI instructions for Solis to provide false information and present himself as a key player in recommending contractors for the Old Post Office.

The defense argues that Solis, facing his own legal troubles, orchestrated the Old Post Office scheme to protect himself.

— Quinn Donoghue

Read more

How Real Estate Overlaps With Ed Burke Corruption Trial
How real estate factors into Ed Burke corruption trial
Corruption Trial Begins For Ex-Ald. Edward Burke
Property tax appeals key to Burke’s corruption trial
Ed Burke Wants Trump Tower Legal Work Shielded from Trial
Ex-alderman Ed Burke wants legal work for Trump Tower shielded from trial
Recommended For You