Madigan’s defense team has mountain of evidence to review in months ahead
Meanwhile, prosecutors are mum on whether they plan to eventually expand upon last month’s bombshell indictment of the former speaker and ally Michael McClain.
Lawyers for former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and a close confidant get to spend the next four months sifting through the mountain of evidence gathered during the feds’ years-long investigation of the Southwest Side Democrat.
Meanwhile, prosecutors are mum on whether they plan to eventually expand upon last month’s bombshell racketeering indictment of Madigan and ally Michael McClain.
That was the upshot of the first brief status hearing in Madigan’s case Friday before U.S. District Judge John Blakey. The judge set the next hearing in the case for Aug. 2 — a little more than a month before McClain is set to go to trial along with three others in a related case.
Madigan and McClain pleaded not guilty last month before a magistrate judge.
Friday’s hearing took place by telephone, and Blakey did not require Madigan or McClain to participate. Blakey told the attorneys he had walled off one of his law clerks from the case because of her previous work at the Katten law firm, which represents Madigan. The judge, a former prosecutor, also asked the lawyers to make sure he did not somehow, in some way, play a role in the lengthy investigation that led to Madigan’s indictment.
The lawyers said they do not expect it to be an issue.
The feds said they had begun to hand over evidence to the defense teams. The description of that evidence from Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu ranged from “quite voluminous” to “very voluminous.”
Defense attorneys will have until the hearing on Aug. 2 to review it.
Then, when Blakey asked bluntly whether prosecutors intend to expand the case against Madigan with a superseding indictment, Bhachu told the judge he “wouldn’t be able to speak to that today.”
Madigan’s indictment alleges he and McClain sought jobs, contracts and money for Madigan’s associates from ComEd between 2011 and 2019, and that Madigan took official action to help ComEd pass favorable legislation.
Those allegations are also at issue in the separate case in which McClain and others are set to stand trial Sept. 12.
But the new indictment against Madigan also alleged other schemes involving former longtime Ald. Danny Solis (25th). The Chicago Sun-Times revealed Solis’ cooperation with federal investigators in January 2019.
Madigan’s indictment alleges he agreed to help Solis land a spot on a state board paying at least $93,926 a year after Solis’ retirement from the City Council. During a meeting Aug. 2, 2018, Madigan allegedly told Solis he would help Solis land the spot by going to J.B. Pritzker, identified in the indictment as the then “future Governor of the State of Illinois.”
Madigan allegedly told Solis, “You’d come in as [Pritzker’s] recommendation.”
Madigan and Pritzker met on Dec. 4, 2018, according to the indictment. But U.S. Attorney John Lausch has stressed “there’s no allegation” in Madigan’s indictment “against the governor or his staff.” A Pritzker spokeswoman said the governor does not recall Madigan ever asking him to consider Solis for any position.
The indictment also alleged Madigan agreed to help with the transfer of a Chinatown property from the state to the city of Chicago, to help clear the way for a developer’s proposal, in exchange for business for his firm, Madigan & Getzendanner.
Records show the federal investigation that led to Madigan’s indictment dates back to 2014. Madigan had held his seat in the Illinois House of Representatives since 1971 and served as speaker for all but two years between 1983 and 2020. He finally gave up the gavel in 2021 amid the burgeoning ComEd scandal.