Prosecutors describe conspiracy in case against former Illinois House Speaker Madigan, others

(The Center Square) – Prosectors outlined their case against former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and four other defendants in a legal motion that provides new details about the alleged conspiracy ahead of a March trial date.

The filing details corruption charges against four people who prosecutors allege gave jobs and contracts as part of an 8-year long effort to influence Madigan on behalf of ComEd, the state’s largest electrical utility.

The four others are Michael McClain, a former state lawmaker and ComEd lobbyist who was one of Madigan’s closest associates; former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore; former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker; and former ComEd consultant Jay Doherty.

“Specifically, the coconspirators agreed to confer a stream of benefits on Madigan, intending to corruptly influence and reward Madigan’s efforts to assist ComEd with respect to legislation affecting ComEd’s business,” prosecutors wrote in the latest legal motion. “Moreover, the indictment alleges that the conspirators sought to conceal this illegal activity by falsifying books and records to disguise the true nature of benefits provided to Madigan.”

The 126-page motion notes that a member of ComEd’s legal department referred to McClain as a “double agent” because of his relationship with Madigan while serving as a ComEd lobbyist. That person, who is referred to as LD-1 in court documents, is expected to testify that “McClain often referred to Madigan as ‘our friend’ rather than by his name.” That person also is expected to tell jurors that “Pramaggiore often relied on an inner circle to make decisions; when those decisions concerned political strategy, the decision-makers would be Pramaggiore, McClain, and Hooker, not the ComEd management committee,” according to the motion. The witness is further expected to say that “Pramaggiore would say things like, ‘What’s important to the Speaker is important to us.'”

In 2020, federal prosecutors and Exelon subsidiary ComEd reached a deferred prosecution agreement. As part of the agreement, the utility admitted it paid $1.3 million in jobs and contracts to associates of Madigan over nearly a decade to influence the former House speaker. ComEd agreed to pay a $200 million fine.

A former ComEd official, Fidel Marquez, pleaded guilty to bribery charges in September 2020. Marquez is expected to testify that “he participated in a conspiracy to provide benefits to Madigan’s associates with the intent to induce Madigan to take action as Speaker that was favorable to ComEd, including support of ComEd’s efforts to pass legislation beneficial to ComEd,” at the trial in March. Marquez also is expected to say that “McClain sometimes participated in conference calls and meetings as the only person who was not a ComEd employee.” Marquez further told prosecutors that those hired at the behest of Madigan and McClain were never given any work assignments even though they were paid by the utility because they were hired for political reasons and not to do actual work, according to the motion.

Prosecutors plan to call current and former state lawmakers to testify as well, though the motion didn’t provide specifics.

“These witnesses are expected to establish that Madigan was understood to be the most powerful legislator in Springfield, and had effective power to control the flow and passage of legislation through the House by, among other things, (i) deciding what bills would stay within committee; (ii) deciding what bills would be called for a vote; (iii) controlling committee assignments; and (iv) controlling financial and campaign assistance to lawmakers, and running candidates against those that did not accede to his wishes, thus making it difficult for them to take positions in opposition to his wishes,” prosecutors wrote in the motion.

“This testimony will be relevant and provide important context for the jury in understanding why the charged defendants were so eager to satisfy Madigan’s requests for payments and other benefits, and why Madigan and McClain were in a position to make requests for such largess,” according to the motion.

McClain, Pramaggiore, Hooker and Doherty have all pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.

Madigan has previously said he did nothing wrong.

“I was never involved in any criminal activity,” Madigan said in a statement in March 2022. “The government is attempting to criminalize a routine constituent service: job recommendations. That is not illegal, and these other charges are equally unfounded.”

Defense attorneys in the case have not yet filed a reply to the government motion.

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