Former ComEd CEO ‘wanted to make sure that we did everything possible’ to earn Madigan’s favor, key federal witness testifies

Fidel Marquez took the stand at the ComEd bribery trial as prosecutors presented FBI recordings and internal ComEd documents showing hundreds of thousands of dollars went to alleged ghost payrollers of the utility.

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Former ComEd executive Fidel Marquez, who pleaded guilty to bribery conspiracy, testified for the prosecution in the ComEd bribery trial Monday.

Sun-Times Media

Former ComEd executive turned government informant Fidel Marquez called his ex-boss a “close” and “personal friend,” then detailed how she funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to associates of former House Speaker Michael Madigan to stay on his winning side.

The government’s star witness took the stand at the ComEd bribery trial Monday as prosecutors presented FBI recordings and internal ComEd documents showing the money went to people who allegedly did no work for the utility company.

“She wanted to make sure that we did everything possible to make sure that Michael Madigan had a favorable disposition toward the company,” Marquez testified, referring to former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore.

Marquez agreed to cooperate with investigators in 2019 and secretly recorded his colleagues who are now on trial: Pramaggiore, ex-ComEd lobbyist John Hooker, former ComEd lobbyist Michael McClain and Jay Doherty, onetime City Club of Chicago president.

The four are accused of arranging for jobs, contracts and money for Madigan’s associates while legislation crucial to ComEd moved through Springfield.

Marquez started working for ComEd as a summer intern in 1981 and rose to the rank of senior vice president of government and external affairs. He pleaded guilty to bribery conspiracy in September 2020 and cooperated in an attempt to reduce his sentence.

The defense will get to cross-examine the man who secretly recorded their clients as soon as Tuesday.

Prosecutors contend that, two weeks into the trial, it has become “abundantly clear” that the intent of the four defendants “is the primary issue in dispute in this case.” Through Marquez’s testimony, they sought to show that their intent was to earn Madigan’s good favor in Springfield.

At the heart of Monday’s testimony was government evidence that Madigan associates were paid as subcontractors through Doherty’s firm but did no legitimate work for ComEd.

Exhibits included a 2017 contract in which Doherty’s consulting firm was paid $429,400, with $108,000 of that contract going to former 13th Ward precinct captain Ed Moody and former Chicago 13th Ward Ald. Frank Olivo, according to Marquez. Pramaggiore’s signature is on the Jan. 23, 2017, contract.

ComEd trial timeline

ComEd scandal timeline


This timeline looks at the key players involved in the trial and the main events that led to it. Scroll through it here.
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In a May 16, 2018 call recorded by the FBI, jurors heard McClain explain to Marquez why Ray Nice should be paid $5,000 a month through Doherty’s ComEd contract. While the transcript of the call had previously been noted in pretrial filings with redactions, it was the first time the audio was released.

"Let me just tell you about each guy as you go through them, " McClain said.

“Ray Nice, he’s one of the top three precinct captains, and he also trained people how to go door to door. And so, just to give you an idea of how important the guy is,” McClain said.

The list of subcontractors who allegedly were paid but did no work also included former state Rep. Eddie Acevedo, who was later dropped after McClain told Marquez in 2018, “You can get rid of him.”

In another call, jurors heard McClain ask Pramaggiore if she had given any more thought to adding former 23rd Ward Ald. Mike Zalewski to the list of subcontractors.

“Yeah. I told Fidel to hire him, to get it done,” Pramaggiore said.

Pramaggiore, who had recently been promoted to a senior executive position at an Exelon affiliate, said during the same call that Joseph Dominguez, the new ComEd CEO, would be coming in, and “we have a lot people hanging out there,” referring to the subcontractors.

Dominguez is a former federal prosecutor.

“When Dominguez comes in, he’s gonna look at all this stuff, and you know, we got a lot of people hanging out there, and so one question Fidel and I had was, is there anybody who, you know, we could sorta take off the roster?” Pramaggiore asked McClain.

Prosecutors sought to show the ebb and flow of the subcontractor deals through the years, all to people favored by Madigan. Doherty already had Olivo and Nice on his contract when McClain in 2013 asked to get Moody off his own contract and onto Doherty’s, according to an email McClain sent to Pramaggiore in June 2013.

Marquez was repeatedly asked if they did any work for ComEd and each time he answered, “No.”

“We didn’t hire them directly on their own,” Marquez said. “We hired them as a favor to Michael Madigan.”

Marquez testified that ComEd’s relationship with Madigan was “not a very good one” in the early 2000s, with the speaker upset about legislation that would have merged ComEd with another utility company.

“During that process, Michael Madigan learned that there was some information that was misrepresented by the company and so he grew not to trust ComEd,” Marquez said, adding the measure never cleared.

“Efforts had to be made to improve the relationship with Michael Madigan and gain his trust,” Marquez said. He described Pramaggiore’s relationship to Madigan as “close if not somewhat personal.”

Prosecutors started the day playing eight wiretapped recordings, including one in which Pramaggiore called McClain to tell him she would be becoming CEO of Exelon Utilities, the parent of ComEd. They included the first FBI recordings jurors have heard featuring Hooker and Pramaggiore.

In a May 8, 2018, conversation, Pramaggiore boasted that Madigan was her first call when she learned of her promotion.

“Because the only reason I’m in this position is because ComEd has done so well. ” Pramaggiore told McClain.

Pramaggiore also called McClain, Hooker and Madigan her “spirit guides.”

“We love you,” McClain told Pramaggiore. “We want you to do well.”

“I love you guys,” Pramaggiore responded.

Contributing: Jon Seidel

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