Burger King saga revisited in Ed Burke trial

Testimony recounts Burke’s alleged shakedown of restaurant owner

Burger King Shakedown Revisited in Ed Burke Trial
Edward Burke and Burger King at 4060 South Pulaski Road (Google Maps)

Former alderman Edward Burke’s alleged shakedown of a Burger King owner in his ward came back to the forefront of his corruption trial, shedding more light one of the key “episodes” instrumental to Burke’s indictment.

Jimmy Wachaa, a vice president of Dhanani Group, the Texas-based company that owns the Burger King linked to the case, testified Monday, the Chicago Tribune reported. Wachaa revealed that he defied his boss’s instructions to hire Burke’s law business, Klafter & Burke, for property tax work based on his instincts regarding the firm’s competence.

“More or less it seemed like we weren’t getting the type of service I was getting, which was speed, accuracy and organization,” Wachaa said.

Wachaa’s testimony touched on his initiation into Chicago-style bureaucracy when a colleague mentioned a meeting with Burke, who warned about outdated driveway permits for the Burger King at 4060 South Pulaski Road.

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The Burger King saga took a legal turn when Burke allegedly instructed his aide, Peter Andrews Jr., to halt a remodel of the restaurant due to permitting issues after Dhanani Group didn’t hire his firm. Wachaa later complied with his boss’s directive to hire Klafter & Burke but reduced the number of restaurants under their contract.

The trial, now in its fourth week, had a brief hiatus due to illness. Prosecutors resumed their focus on the Burger King episode, emphasizing the alleged conspiracy to obstruct the renovation. The charges assert that Burke, a powerful alderman who served as a public official for 54 years, conspired with Andrews to force compliance. 

Notably, jurors heard about another co-defendant, real estate developer Charles Cui, allegedly attempting to buy Burke’s influence for a pole sign permit, although it was denied. Burke faces 14 charges of racketeering, bribery and extortion, while Cui and Andrews face charges related to bribery, extortion and false statements. The trial is expected to conclude by Dec. 11, with 18 witnesses already testifying. 

—Quinn Donoghue 

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