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Former state Rep. Luis Arroyo pleads guilty in corruption case

It’s been two years since prosecutors first charged Arroyo with bribery amid a series of burgeoning public corruption probes. The case revealed the on-and-off cooperation with the FBI of a state senator who wore a wire on Arroyo.

Former state Rep. Luis Arroyo walks out of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in February 2020.
Former state Rep. Luis Arroyo walks out of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in February 2020.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

Former state Rep. Luis Arroyo pleaded guilty Wednesday in his federal corruption case, admitting to many of the allegations that ended his political career.

His sentencing hearing is set for Feb. 18.

It’s been two years since prosecutors first charged Arroyo, 67, with bribery in October 2019 amid a series of burgeoning public corruption probes. The case revealed the on-and-off cooperation with the FBI of a state senator who wore a wire on Arroyo in hopes of landing a reduced sentence for filing false income tax returns.

A source identified that lawmaker at the time as then-Sen. Terry Link. He publicly denied being the cooperating senator. But Link then went on to be charged with filing a false income tax return, pleaded guilty and formally agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

In September, lawyers told the judge presiding over Link’s case they expect his cooperation “will not conclude within the next several months.”

In October 2020, a 15-page indictment in Arroyo’s case added charges against James Weiss. It alleged that Arroyo spent roughly a year as Weiss’ bought-and-paid-for member of the Illinois House of Representatives.

Weiss is the son-in-law of former Cook County Democratic Party chairman and ex-county assessor Joseph Berrios.

The indictment alleged that, in exchange for at least $10,000 in bribes from Weiss, Arroyo agreed to push and vote for key bills, urged other lawmakers to do the same, spoke out at key moments like committee hearings, and even leaned on people working for the governor.

But Weiss and Arroyo needed someone in the Senate and turned to the feds’ cooperator, who the source identified as Link.

Weiss managed Collage LLC, which operated unlicensed video gambling machines known as sweepstakes machines. The indictment alleged that Weiss paid bribes to Arroyo from November 2018 until October 2019, cutting checks from Collage to Arroyo’s Spartacus 3 LLC.

It also said Weiss was there on Aug. 2, 2019, when Arroyo asked Link to support sweepstakes legislation. The men met at a Highland Park restaurant, according to a criminal complaint. Afterward, when Arroyo and Link were alone outside the restaurant, Arroyo suggested to Link he could be paid for his support, according to the complaint.

“We could put you on a contract. … Tell me what you need,” Arroyo said, according to the document.

Weeks later, it said Arroyo gave the senator the first of what he promised would become monthly payments of $2,500.

“This is the jackpot,” Arroyo boasted, according to the complaint.

On Oct. 22, 2019, Weiss also allegedly mailed a package to Link that contained a $2,500 bribe in the form of a check from Collage to a nominee named by Link, along with a sham consulting deal. Weiss later allegedly lied to the feds, telling them he had spoken to the nominee.