Political operative Roberto Caldero charged in new indictment featuring ex-Ald. Danny Solis
Also charged in separate tax indictments were former state Rep. Edward “Eddie” Acevedo and his sons Michael and Alex Acevedo.
It was late in 2016 when political operative Roberto Caldero allegedly began to lean on then-25th Ward Ald. Danny Solis, promising $10,000 in campaign contributions for help landing an Ohio company a $1 billion custodial services contract at the Chicago Public Schools.
The two met in November 2016, and Caldero allegedly handed Solis a check for $1,000. The next month, Caldero allegedly sent $5,000 to the 25th Ward Regular Democratic Organization in exchange for Solis’ efforts. Then, in July 2017, Caldero allegedly waved another $15,000 if Solis pressured then-CPS CEO Forrest Claypool and “got this thing done.”
Now, Caldero is charged with fraud and bribery in a 20-page indictment filed late Wednesday that further pulls back the curtain on the undercover work of Solis, who left the City Council after the Chicago Sun-Times in January 2019 revealed he had been cooperating for years with the feds.
The indictment also alleges that Caldero offered $50,000 in campaign contributions in exchange for Solis’ help getting a street and park named in honor of members of the Cacciatore family.
Also charged late Wednesday in separate tax indictments were former state Rep. Edward “Eddie” Acevedo, as well as his sons Michael and Alex Acevedo. The Acevedos could not be reached for comment.
Caldero, 68, told the Sun-Times on Wednesday that neither he nor his attorney had been contacted by federal prosecutors about his indictment. Caldero is charged with four counts of honest services wire fraud, two counts of federal program bribery and two counts of facilitating bribery.
Records connected to the Caldero and Acevedo indictments list a grand jury number that also appears in records related to the racketeering case against Ald. Edward M. Burke and a federal subpoena delivered last summer to the office of then-House Speaker Michael Madigan, who has been implicated in a bribery scheme involving ComEd. Madigan has denied any wrongdoing.
The case against Caldero also involves Pedro Soto, the onetime chief of staff to CPS CEO Janice Jackson. Soto pleaded guilty last summer to lying to the FBI about whether he had given out inside information about the bidding process on the $1 billion custodial contract. Wednesday’s indictment appears to confirm the person he spoke to was Caldero.
The Sun-Times also last year first reported that federal prosecutors subpoenaed the Illinois secretary of state’s lobbyist division for records related to the Acevedos, as well as their lobbying company, Apex Strategy LLC. Edward Acevedo’s name also then appeared in the subpoena sent to Madigan’s office in July.
Caldero’s name came to light in a bombshell federal court affidavit first obtained by the Sun-Times in January 2019. Among other things, it alleged that Solis and Caldero had made plans to exchange Viagra or visit massage parlors.
Solis helped prosecutors build their case against Burke, and Burke’s defense lawyers have said in court filings that Solis struck what’s known as a deferred-prosecution agreement with the feds. That deal was also allegedly made in January 2019.
The indictment against Caldero alleges he offered Soto jobs, champagne and admission to an annual museum benefit for his help landing the CPS contract for the Ohio company, GCA Educational Services Central States Inc. As part of the scheme, Soto allegedly joined an evaluation committee considering the bids and then gave “non-public” and confidential information to Caldero in 2016 and 2017.
Soto also allegedly gave higher scores to GCA, and lower scores to its competitors, to help Caldero. Meanwhile, Caldero allegedly then recruited Solis and asked Solis to put pressure on then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Around the same time, Caldero also allegedly promised Solis $50,000 in campaign contributions from the Cacciatore family in exchange for Solis’ help securing an honorary street name for the father of a member of the Cacciatore family and to pressure Chicago Park District officials to rename a park for that person’s grandfather.
Caldero allegedly told Solis the payments would come from businesses “related to” the Cacciatore family —“but not owned by them.”
Records show Solis introduced an ordinance in late September 2016 to designate the 500 block of South Wells as Honorary Victor J. Cacciatore Sr. Way. Then, in December, records show a business owned by the Cacciatore family made a $5,000 contribution to the 25th Ward organization.
Caldero previously told the Sun-Times that the Cacciatore family has major real estate holdings in the 25th Ward and had donated regularly to Solis for many years. He also said in 2019 that his help arranging Viagra and massage parlor visits for Solis was done out of friendship.
“If Danny asked me for almost anything, I would do it,” Caldero said then. “It’s never been a quid pro quo.”
Contributing: Tim Novak