Judge sets Ald. Ed Burke’s racketeering trial for November 2023 — giving Burke a chance to run again

The feds’ case against Burke has lingered for more than three years at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, thanks in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic and a mountain of pretrial motions filed in August 2020 that were only ruled upon last month.

SHARE Judge sets Ald. Ed Burke’s racketeering trial for November 2023 — giving Burke a chance to run again
Flanked by his attorneys, Ald. Ed Burke (14th) walks out of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in June 2019.

Flanked by his attorneys, Ald. Ed Burke (14th) walks out of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in June 2019.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

The long-awaited federal racketeering trial of Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) has been set for November 2023, giving Chicago’s longest-serving City Council member an opportunity to seek reelection while facing federal criminal charges — again.

U.S. District Judge Robert Dow set the trial date during a status hearing Tuesday, after struggling to find a spot on the calendar for a six-week trial that would work for all attorneys involved. He ultimately decided on Nov. 6, 2023.

Also charged in the case are Burke political aide Peter J. Andrews and developer Charles Cui.

Chicago’s next municipal election is set for Feb. 28.

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The feds’ case against Burke has lingered for more than three years at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, thanks in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic and a mountain of pretrial motions filed in August 2020 that were only ruled upon last month.

The delay in getting Burke to trial has been frustrating for many — including Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Federal prosecutors pushed for a trial date at a recent hearing, telling the judge, “There is a public interest in the trial here and in getting this trial date set in short order.”

However, the judge put off the discussion until Tuesday’s hearing. His ruling last month on the pretrial motions kept the case against Burke intact.

Burke was reelected in February 2019 despite an attempted extortion charge filed against him the month prior. A grand jury handed up his racketeering indictment later, in May 2019.

The charges accuse Burke of having used his seat on the City Council to steer business to his private law firm amid schemes that involved the Old Post Office, a Burger King at 41st Street and Pulaski Road, and a redevelopment project on the Northwest Side.

The case was built in large part with the help of then-Ald. Danny Solis (25th), who cooperated with the feds after an investigation into his own activities. He has been charged with bribery but could ultimately see the charge against him dismissed as a result of a deal he struck with prosecutors.

In contrast to the case against Burke, a federal judge last week handed a four-month prison sentence to former Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th) just 14 months after Thompson’s indictment on tax charges.

Ald. Carrie M. Austin (34th) also spent the last year under federal indictment, with no resolution in sight.

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