Jurors have commenced their first full day of deliberations in the racketeering case of former Alderman Edward Burke, a prominent figure in the City Council accused of exploiting his influence for personal gain.
During deliberations, the jury sought clarification regarding a count involving co-defendant Charles Cui and the use of interstate commerce to facilitate an unlawful activity. The instructions mentioned Burke accepting property and a fee not authorized by law from Cui. Jurors requested a definition of “not authorized by law.”
Following arguments from both prosecutors and Burke’s attorneys, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall sided with Cui’s lawyers, directing jurors to refer to the instructions they had already received for answers.
These deliberations highlight the complexity of the jury’s task, as Burke’s alleged actions and his role as alderman are central to the case.
Deliberations are anticipated to extend over several days due to the substantial and intricate charges against Burke and his co-defendants, Peter Andrews Jr. and Charles Cui. The case encompasses 19 counts, including racketeering, federal program bribery, attempted extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, and using interstate commerce for unlawful activities.
After three days of closing arguments concluded last week, Judge Kendall allowed the jury the weekend off, emphasizing that they should not feel pressured given the lengthy six-week trial. If a verdict is not reached by Friday, deliberations will resume after the New Year to avoid disrupting jurors’ holiday plans.
Edward Burke, aged 79, who served as alderman for 54 years before leaving the City Council in May, faces 14 counts, including racketeering. Andrews, aged 74, is charged with multiple counts, while Cui, aged 52, faces charges of federal program bribery, using interstate commerce for unlawful activities, and making false statements to the FBI.
The indictment alleges that Burke utilized his City Hall authority to seek business for his private law firm from developers, including those involved in the Old Post Office’s renovation. Other charges involve attempts to extort business owners and alleged retaliatory actions.
The case’s core evidence includes wiretapped phone calls and secretly recorded meetings conducted by FBI mole Daniel Solis, the former 25th Ward alderman who cooperated with the FBI after facing his own misconduct allegations in 2016.