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Vrdolyak lawyers: Indictment ‘deceptive, irrelevant and sinister’

Former Alderman Edward Vrdolyak leaves the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse on Nov. 22, 2016. | Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times
Former Chicago Ald. Edward Vrdolyak leaves the Dirksen Federal Building last year. | Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times file photo

Attorneys for Edward Vrdolyak are asking a judge to remove several details contained in the former Chicago alderman’s 2016 federal indictment, arguing that they are “deceptive, irrelevant and sinister sounding allegations.”

In a motion to strike filed Friday afternoon, Vrdolyak’s lawyers argue that much of the indictment “will confuse the jury and prejudice Vrdolyak.”

A grand jury hit Vrdolyak last November with a 19-page indictment that outlined his alleged role in a scheme to pocket millions from Illinois’ $9.3 billion settlement with tobacco companies nearly two decades ago.

The indictment alleges Vrdolyak, known as “Fast Eddie,” was promised $65 million from that settlement even though he “did no work on the Tobacco Lawsuit.”

It’s not clear how much money Vrdolyak made from the settlement, but federal prosecutors told a judge in 2010 that Vrdolyak “has a guaranteed income stream of $260,000 per year . . . until 2023 from tobacco-related litigation.”

The indictment charged Vrdolyak with impeding the IRS and tax evasion. He faces a maximum of eight years in prison for allegedly trying to help his co-defendant, Daniel Soso, dodge federal income taxes.

Vrdolyak’s attorneys are asking Judge Amy St. Eve to strike “All references to the Tobacco Lawsuit and to the Illinois Tobacco Litigation” along with language “charging secrecy and concealment” from the state, the attorney general and parties in the tobacco case.

His attorneys said prosecutors included those references to suggest Vrdolyak was guilty of something, even if he was not formally charged.

“There is no other reason for the Government to include these allegations except to insinuate that Vrdolyak must have been doing something wrong, though something that is not charged as a crime in the Indictment,” his attorneys wrote.

“Simply put, none of the allegations in the superseding Indictment under the headings ‘The Tobacco Lawsuit” or “Soso’s and Vrdolyak’s Secret Receipt of Fees from the Tobacco Lawsuit’ relate to the essential elements of either tax offense charged herein,” the motion reds. “The Government includes them only to prejudice Vrdolyak.”