A magistrate judge has ordered a search warrant affidavit to be unsealed that prosecutors filed to search the homes and City Council and ward offices of Ald. Danny Solis, who is at the center of a wide-ranging federal investigation of Chicago political corruption.
The investigation has already resulted in a criminal complaint against the most powerful alderman in Chicago, Ed Burke, who was charged earlier this year with attempted extortion. It also touched one of the most powerful politicians in the state, House Speaker Michael Madigan, who was secretly recorded in 2014 pitching a Chinese businessman to hire his law firm for legal work on property tax appeals — at the same time the man needed zoning help to build a hotel in Chinatown.
The affidavit goes a long way to explain how the feds built a case against Solis and why he secretly wore a recording device against Burke and others. The Chicago Sun-Times obtained the affidavit when it was briefly made public earlier this year before a judge ordered it resealed. The Sun-Times has reported on the document extensively. Magistrate Judge Young B. Kim ordered the affidavit unsealed based on legal action by the Chicago Tribune.
Solis, through his defense attorney, had no comment Wednesday on the affidavit. The Sun-Times has previously reported that he has told associates that he hopes to eventually be viewed as a hero for his cooperation with the federal government.
The affidavit is 120 pages and dense with detail. Here’s a guide to some highlights in the document. Please note that the page numbers below refer to those in the document itself.
Pages 4 to 6
The feds outlines some of the allegations against Solis that they are arguing should allow it to conduct the searches.
The Madigan conversations
Pages 10 to 25
The government describes a businessman it identifies only as “CS-1” who wears a wire to a meeting with Solis and Madigan. The Sun-Times has identified the businessman as See Y. Wong. The feds detail how Wong came into the orbit of Solis and how he came to be in a meeting of Solis, Madigan and the Chinese businessman whom Wong was representing, Kin Kuong Chong. Chong wanted to build a hotel in Chinatown.
Madigan is secretly recorded touting his law firm’s services to Wong and Chong. And later, Solis says outside of Madigan’s presence if Madigan’s firm gets hired, the project will get the assistance it needs from the city.
The recording also shows that Solis and Madigan were interested in another property, owned by the state, that was in Chinatown and ripe for development, which the Sun-Times has written about.
Solis’ relationship with political operative Roberto Caldero and developer Fred Latsko
Page 26 to 70
The feds allege Solis received free Viagra and sex services at Asian massage parlors from Caldero while helping out Caldero’s clients. Likewise, with Latsko, the feds say Solis helped the developer with projects and got free use of Latsko’s luxury farm for Solis’ family, among other benefits. The farm was once owned by Oprah Winfrey.
Solis talks to lawyer and political operative Victor Reyes
Pages 70 to 73
The feds lay out a secretly recorded conversation between Solis and Reyes, in which Solis asks Reyes to raise money for him, and Reyes allegedly complains that Solis has sent him no legal business lately, while other aldermen have. Some of those aldermen did acknowledge to the Sun-Times that they had referred business to Reyes but said they did nothing wrong.
Solis hits up a developer for campaign contribution
Pages 79 to 83
Solis talks to luxury hotel developer Spiro Tsaparas and hits him up for a campaign contribution, while Tsaparas asks Solis to see about getting his brother-in-law a city job. Tsaparas told the Sun-Times he was never strong-armed into a direct pay-to-play by any alderman but acknowledged it was impossible to do business in the city without having relationships with them.
Solis and McHugh Construction
Pages 83 to 88
Solis is accused of agreeing with Monterrey Security founder Juan Gaytan to accept a gratuity from McHugh Construction as a reward for “official acts” favoring McHugh’s efforts to win approval of “a 500-room hotel and data center project” near McCormick Place.
Solis’ alleged use of campaign cash for personal expenses
Pages 91 to 94
The feds list how Solis allegedly used campaign money for personal expenses, including private-school tuition for his son. Most of the personal purchases and payments described in the affidavit were made on 25th Ward credit cards in the name of Solis and his sister, Grace Perales, the Sun-Times has reported.
Solis and attorney Brian Hynes
Footnote on Pages 94 and 95
The feds allege that attorney Brian Hynes provided personal benefits to Solis in exchange for his help as alderman, which Hynes has denied to the Sun-Times.
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Sun-Times videos on the Solis investigation: