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Chain of events ends in Link’s resignation from state Senate after federal charge

Link’s resignation, which takes effect at 9 a.m. Saturday, comes about a month after he was charged in federal court with filing a false income tax return for the year 2016.

Sen. Terry Link, D-Vernon Hills.
Sen. Terry Link, D-Vernon Hills
Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register via AP

Ending a 24-year legislative career, state Sen Terry Link offered his resignation on Friday, nearly a month after being hit with a federal tax charge.

The Vernon Hills Democrat’s resignation goes into effect at 9 a.m. Saturday.

In August, Link was charged in federal court with filing a false income tax return for the year 2016, claiming his income was $264,450 even though he knew his total income “substantially exceeded that amount.”

Link could not be reached for comment Friday.

State Senate President Don Harmon issued a terse statement, saying only “I look forward to welcoming and working with a new senator from Lake County. We’ve got a lot of work to do for the people of Illinois.”

The case against Link, 73, is just one piece of a winding federal corruption probe into city and state politicians that appears to have been rekindled following a quiet stretch after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

In July, prosecutors charged ComEd with bribery in a case that implicated House Speaker Michael Madigan, who has not been criminally charged and denies wrongdoing.

Crestwood Mayor Louis Presta was also charged in a bribery case involving the politically connected red-light camera company SafeSpeed. Presta pleaded not guilty.

There’s also speculation that Link was involved in the downfall of a fellow state lawmaker, former Rep. Luis Arroyo.

Link has denied being the unnamed senator who turned on Arroyo and wore a wire for the feds after a source confirmed to the Chicago Sun-Times that Link was the same senator who had been caught submitting false income tax returns to the IRS, expected to be charged for it, and cooperated because he hoped it’d earn him some leniency at sentencing.

The feds’ investigations have also led to charges against former state Sen. Martin Sandoval, and Sen. Thomas Cullerton, who remains in office. Both are Democrats.

First elected to the state Senate in 1996, Link is a longtime advocate of gambling expansion, finally securing a Waukegan casino with the sweeping law signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker last year.

Link was the head of the Lake County Democratic Party from 1992 until stepping down last month. He is a former poker buddy of ex-President Barack Obama, dating back to the days when the two served together in the state Senate.

Obama even mentioned Link in his 2016 speech to the Illinois General Assembly in Springfield. Though Link ran for mayor of Waukegan in 2013, he finished last in a three-way Democratic primary.

Link is scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday.