Ex-Chicago Ald. Edward Vrdolyak wants to push back his fast-approaching trial, which could shed new light on a secret deal that netted him and a colleague more than $10 million, records show.
Vrdolyak is set to go to trial March 5 for tax evasion and impeding the IRS. But his lawyers want to wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to consider arguments heard last month over the breadth of a law “central” to Vrdolyak’s case — a law Justice Elena Kagan described as “ungodly broad,” according to a new court filing.
“There is little doubt that the court will limit the reach of the statute — and by extension the unbounded discretion it currently provides prosecutors,” lawyer Catharine O’Daniel wrote in a motion filed on the former alderman’s behalf Tuesday.
A 19-page federal indictment against Vrdolyak outlines his role in a scheme to pocket millions of dollars from Illinois’ $9.3 billion settlement with tobacco companies nearly two decades ago. The indictment alleges Vrdolyak was promised $65 million from that settlement even though he “did no work on the Tobacco Lawsuit.”
It’s not clear how much money Vrdolyak made from the settlement, but the feds say he and co-defendant Daniel Soso “have so far received in excess of $10 million in fees.” They also told a judge in 2010 that Vrdolyak “has a guaranteed income stream of $260,000 per year . . . until 2023 from tobacco-related litigation.”
Soso appears to be in plea talks and could plead guilty by the end of the month.
Meanwhile, Vrdolyak’s lawyers say he was indicted using the law at the center of a tax case argued before the Supreme Court on Dec. 6. At issue is whether the law requires that there was a pending IRS action or proceeding — like an investigation or an audit — of which a defendant was aware when he acted to impede it.
The feds say that, as part of their secret deal, Vrdolyak agreed in writing to make payments to Soso. But Soso was allegedly dodging taxes. And after the IRS served Vrdolyak with a levy in 2005 demanding he pay any money owed to Soso to the IRS, Vrdolyak allegedly stopped paying Soso and told the IRS he owed Soso nothing.
“The question presently before the Supreme Court is at the heart of Mr. Vrdolyak’s criminal liability and directly impacts every aspect of the pretrial preparations of his defense,” O’Daniel wrote.