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Lawyer for ex-City Club president attacks bribery indictment, calls feds’ theory ‘shaky at best’

Jay Doherty’s lawyer questioned Thursday if grand jurors considered whether the jobs at issue in ComEd scandal were “bona fide” or in the “usual course of business.”

Former City Club President Jay Doherty
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Former City Club President Jay Doherty asked a judge Thursday to toss parts of a bombshell indictment filed last fall charging him and members of former House Speaker Michael Madigan’s inner circle with bribery, calling the federal prosecution “shaky at best.”

The indictment alleged that Doherty, Madigan confidant Michael McClain, ex-ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore and onetime ComEd lobbyist John Hooker arranged for Madigan’s associates and allies to get jobs, contracts and money in order to influence Madigan.

Madigan has not been charged, and he denies wrongdoing.

In a 15-page legal memo filed Thursday, Doherty’s lawyer questioned if the grand jury that handed up the indictment last November considered whether the jobs at issue were “bona fide” or in the “usual course of business.”

Attorney Gabrielle Sansonetti wrote that one of the federal laws Doherty is accused of violating “prohibits any prosecution where the object of the bribe is a bona fide job in the usual course of business” and added that, “the indictment fails to evidence the grand jury’s consideration of this essential element.”

Without requiring such evidence, the attorney wrote, prosecutors are “free to indict any legislator who recommends any person for a job to any entity that will benefit or may have previously benefited from that legislator’s official action.”

Prosecutors “can easily secure evidence regarding the legitimacy of the job at issue,” Sansonetti wrote. Meanwhile, she added that Doherty “must wait until a jury trial to prove the legitimacy of the jobs.”

“This involves significant resources and time and thrusts on the defendant all the inherent collateral consequences of a public indictment, including shame to one’s reputation, stress on one’s family, and the impact on one’s work, without affirmation that the indictment is sound,” Sansonetti wrote. “This is an unjust and unnecessary consequence for a theory of prosecution that is shaky at best.”

During a status hearing in the bribery case earlier this month, defense attorneys told U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber they believed prosecutors were “on the brink of a superseding indictment,” which could expand the case with additional defendants, charges, and allegations.

Prosecutors told the judge they weren’t in a position to discuss it, deferring the conversation to the next status hearing, which is set for Aug. 3.