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Trial date set for members of Madigan’s inner circle, but feds won’t comment on additional charges

A prosecutor Tuesday said she had “no further information about whether there will be a superseding indictment” in the ComEd bribery case and told the judge, “the investigation is ongoing.”

Then-House Speaker Mike Madigan listens to debate during a session of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Bank of Springfield Center.
Then-House Speaker Mike Madigan listens to debate during a session of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Bank of Springfield Center last year.
Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register/Distributed by the Associated Press

Four members of former House Speaker Michael Madigan’s inner circle could face trial late in 2022 for their alleged roles in the ComEd bribery scandal.

What’s still not clear is whether new allegations might surface in the case by then.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber on Tuesday scheduled a Sept. 12, 2022, trial for Madigan confidant Michael McClain, former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, onetime ComEd lobbyist John Hooker and ex-City Club President Jay Doherty. All four have pleaded not guilty in response to a 50-page indictment filed last November that accused them of a long-term bribery scheme designed to curry favor with Madigan.

But Leinenweber also asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Streicker about the ongoing possibility of a superseding indictment — which could add new allegations and defendants to the case. Streicker insisted she had “no further information about whether there will be a superseding indictment” and told the judge, “the investigation is ongoing.”

When the judge pressed her to clarify, Streicker said she was “not at liberty to publicly discuss the status of grand jury matters.”

The indictment filed in November alleged that McClain, Pramaggiore, Hooker and Doherty arranged for Madigan’s associates and allies to get jobs, contracts and money — even while doing little or no work — “for the purpose of influencing and rewarding” Madigan.

Madigan has not been charged and has denied wrongdoing. But the fallout from the investigation finally ended his record-setting tenure as Illinois House speaker earlier this year. He has repeatedly been referred to in court documents as “Public Official A.”

Lawyers for members of his inner circle sought in June to convince the judge to toss part of the case, arguing the indictment suffers from a series of “fatal” gaps — including the lack of a clear quid pro quo.

Clockwise from top left: Former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker, Michael McClain, ex-City Club President Jay Doherty and ex-ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore.
Sun-Times file

Instead, the defense attorneys wrote, it “loosely strings together an assortment of events over a ten-year period of time — largely hiring decisions made by ComEd … at the recommendation of Public Official A — and alleges that, because such recommendations were made in the same decade that legislation affecting ComEd was passed, a crime must have been committed.”

They wrote that, if the prosecution were to move forward as it stands, it would give prosecutors “essentially unlimited discretion to prosecute anyone who has provided a benefit to a public official, and convict them on evidence that the public official took some official act that the defendant favored.”

The judge has not ruled on the matter.

Federal prosecutors first implicated Madigan when they separately charged ComEd with bribery in July 2020. ComEd struck a deal with the feds in which it agreed to pay a $200 million fine — believed to be the largest criminal fine ever in Chicago’s federal court. If it abides with that and other terms of the deal, the bribery charge filed against it could ultimately be dropped.

Another former ComEd executive, Fidel Marquez, pleaded guilty to a bribery conspiracy in September 2020 and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Then, last May, a federal grand jury charged former Madigan chief of staff Timothy Mapes with perjury and attempted obstruction of justice as part of the same investigation.