Federal prosecutors want more time to seek an indictment against Ald. Ed Burke (14th) in the corruption case that earlier this year rocked City Hall in the middle of campaign season.
Facing a May 3 deadline to seek what is generally expected to be a wider indictment from a grand jury against Burke, prosecutors asked a judge Thursday for 35 additional days. If the judge grants their request, their new deadline would be June 7.
That means the indictment likely wouldn’t arrive until five months after Burke was first charged with attempted extortion in a criminal complaint. The longtime alderman managed to win re-election in the meantime.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu made the request in a four-page filing that explained, “the government is conducting a diligent and thorough investigation into this case, but certain factors have led to this request for an extension.”
“These factors include the complex nature of this public corruption case, and the fact that the investigation is ongoing,” Bhachu wrote.
Bhachu also wrote that Burke’s lawyers have raised no objection to the later deadline. Burke’s legal team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Federal law gives prosecutors 30 days to seek an indictment following an arrest, though a judge may extend that time under certain circumstances. Burke self-surrendered and appeared in court on Jan. 3, but a judge later gave the feds a 90-day extension until May 3.
The FBI raided Burke’s ward and City Hall offices Nov. 29. Then, the criminal complaint in January charged him with attempted extortion for allegedly shaking down two Burger King franchise executives in an attempt to steer business toward his private law firm.
Later that month, the Sun-Times revealed that retiring Ald. Danny Solis (25th) had secretly recorded more than a dozen conversations with Burke over two years for federal investigators. A federal court affidavit obtained by the Sun-Times also revealed a corruption case had been built against Solis involving him receiving free sex acts, Viagra and weekend use of a luxury farm once owned by Oprah Winfrey in exchange for official acts.
The scandal became a central issue in this year’s city elections. Assuming the request for more time to indict Burke is granted, an indictment would likely arrive after Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot and new City Council members take office.
Earlier this month, prosecutors also secured a four-count indictment against developer Charles Cui. The developer allegedly sought favors from Burke as Cui tried to land a permit that would let Binny’s Beverage Depot reuse an old bank sign in the 4900 block of West Irving Park Road. Cui was the managing member of a company that owned the property there.