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Burke back in court, where his case inches along

The next status hearing is Oct. 8, and the judge says Ald. Edward Burke doesn’t have to be there.

Ald. Edward Burke (14th), center, walks out of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse on Tuesday, June 4, 2019.
Flanked by his attorneys, Ald. Ed Burke (14th) walks out of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse on June 4, 2019.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Ald. Edward M. Burke showed his face in a federal courtroom again Tuesday, more than a month after federal prosecutors hit him with a bombshell racketeering indictment.

However, little happened during the brief status hearing in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Robert Dow at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.

Charles Cui, one of Burke’s co-defendants, joined him in appearing before the judge Tuesday. So did Peter Andrews, another co-defendant, who showed up late.

Prosecutors told the judge they’ve begun to share evidence with the defense attorneys, and they plan to share even more. In a motion filed late last month, Burke’s lawyers said they were still waiting on several materials, including “voluminous recordings.”

Dow set another status hearing for Oct. 8 — roughly three months from now — and he said neither Burke nor his co-defendants are obligated to be there.

Burke, Andrews and Cui pleaded not guilty last month to the sweeping, 59-page indictment filed May 30.

The indictment accused Burke of using his powerful 14th Ward aldermanic seat to steer business toward his private tax law firm amid schemes that involved the Old Main Post Office, a Burger King at 41st Street and Pulaski Road, and a redevelopment project on the Northwest Side. Andrews and Cui were implicated in the Burger King and redevelopment project, respectively.

Burke is also accused of trying to block an admission fee hike at the Field Museum, all because he wasn’t getting an answer about a museum internship for the daughter of former Ald. Terry Gabinski.

The indictment showcased the undercover work of former 25th Ward Ald. Danny Solis, who wore a wire as a secret federal informant. It revealed that, by August 2018, authorities had recorded more than 62,000 of Burke’s phone calls.

Amid the Post Office scheme, the feds allegedly caught Burke uttering unforgettable lines like, “The cash register has not rung yet” and “Did we land . . . the tuna?”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has called on Burke to resign.