Caldero, Acevedo plead not guilty to latest charges to drop in federal corruption probe

Also charged in separate indictments last week were Acevedo’s sons, Michael and Alex Acevedo, who each pleaded not guilty during their own arraignments this week.

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Ex-State Rep. Edward Acevedo in a 2013 photo

AP

Two key figures charged in the feds’ ongoing public corruption probes each pleaded not guilty during separate virtual arraignments Friday.

Political operative Roberto Caldero pleaded not guilty to federal fraud and bribery charges involving former Ald. Danny Solis (25th). And former state Rep. Edward “Eddie” Acevedo pleaded not guilty to tax charges.

During Acevedo’s arraignment, Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu suggested Acevedo should be told not to use alcohol while on release awaiting trial, based on information “obtained” during the feds’ investigation. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly said he needed more detail, and Bhachu offered to provide it in a sealed document.

Also charged in separate indictments last week were Acevedo’s sons, Michael and Alex Acevedo, who each pleaded not guilty during their own arraignments this week. Records connected to the Caldero and Acevedo indictments list the same grand jury number that has appeared in court records related to the investigation circling former House Speaker Michael Madigan and the racketeering case against Ald. Ed Burke (14th).

Though Madigan has been implicated in a bribery scheme involving ComEd, he has not been criminally charged and denies wrongdoing.

The indictment against Caldero alleges he offered Solis as much as $20,000 in campaign contributions to help an Ohio company land a $1 billion custodial contract with the Chicago Public Schools, as well as $50,000 in campaign contributions to help secure an honorary street designation and park renaming for members of the Cacciatore family. Caldero also allegedly bribed a high-ranking CPS official, Pedro Soto, with job offers, champagne and admission to an annual museum benefit.

Solis left the City Council after the Chicago Sun-Times revealed in January 2019 that he had been cooperating for years with the feds.

Caldero’s name surfaced at that time in a bombshell federal court affidavit first obtained by the Sun-Times. Among other things, it alleged that Solis and Caldero had made plans to exchange Viagra or visit massage parlors.

The separate case against Acevedo alleges that Acevedo evaded taxes for the years 2017, when he made $130,775, and 2018, when he made $127,708. He is also accused of failing to file tax returns for those years, as well as for 2015 and 2016.

The Sun-Times first reported last year that federal prosecutors had 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 a subpoena sent to Madigan’s office last July.

Friday’s arraignment wasn’t the first time alcohol has been raised as a concern in connection with Edward Acevedo and the feds’ corruption probe. It also came up in emails from Madigan confidant Michael McClain released by a state legislative panel in November. They offered details about a lobbying contract Edward Acevedo and his sons landed with ComEd as subcontractors to the law firm of Victor Reyes, whose dealings have also been at issue.

Acevedo apparently created problems for ComEd, according to an email McClain sent in January 2017.

“His two boys are nice but need a firm monitor. They are lazy,” McClain wrote. “He has to show up at the meetings on time. Himself. Not his boys representing him… Watch the booze.”

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