A former Illinois state representative and two of his sons were indicted on federal charges Wednesday after prosecutors say all three lied about their income in an alleged scheme to avoid paying taxes.
Former state Rep. Eddie Acevedo was indicted on two counts of felony tax evasion and four counts of willfully failing to file a return, one each for the years 2015 through 2018, according to the grand jury indictment filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on Wednesday.
Acevedo, a Democrat, is a former Chicago police officer who represented the 2nd District, which includes the city's Pilsen, Bridgeport and McKinley Park neighborhoods, from 1997 to 2017 and served as assistant majority leader in the House.
His son Alex Acevedo is a nurse who ran unsuccessfully for his father’s seat in 2016. He then ran for alderman of Chicago's 25th Ward in 2019, losing in a contentious runoff election to replace outgoing Ald. Danny Solis, an ally-turned-adversary after the younger Acevedo's 2016 loss. Solis himself was revealed to have worn a wire while cooperating with investigators in the sprawling, ongoing federal corruption investigation that has ensnared several prominent figures in Chicago and Illinois politics, as well as the state's largest electric utility company.
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Eddie and Alex Acevedo, along with the elder's other son Michael Acevedo, had a lobbying business called Apex Strategy LLC that was first registered with the Illinois Secretary of State’s office in 2015 under just the sons' names. In 2017, Eddie Acevedo was added to the registration after he left office and Alex Acevedo was removed before he ran for alderman. It appeared that the company was no longer registered with the state as of 2021, per the secretary of state's online database.
The first two counts of tax evasion in Eddie Acevedo's indictment allege that he underreported his income in 2017 and 2018 to avoid paying taxes. Prosecutors say he made more than $130,000 in 2017 and nearly $128,000 in 2018, with more than half of his income each year coming from a "Company A" that was identified only as an LLC in Illinois. The indictment alleges that Eddie Acevedo took payments in cash to conceal his income, made cash deposits in his personal bank account to hide the source and nature of those payments and made his accountant file a deadline extension form in both years stating his tax liability was $0 when it was actually nearly $20,000 in 2018 and more than $15,000 the following year.
Alex Acevedo was indicted on two felony counts of fraud, alleging he underreported his income in 2016 and 2018 to avoid paying taxes. Prosecutors say he concealed more than $49,000 in income in 2016, reporting just over $21,000 in income when he knew that figure was much higher. The indictment alleges he did the same for his 2018 taxes, disclosing more than $80,000 in income for the year, underreporting by nearly $17,000.
The indictment for Michael Acevedo lists one felony count of fraud in which federal authorities say he filed a 1040 for 2015 in which he did not report at least $47,000 in income, listing his total income as just under $45,000 when he knew it was higher. He was also indicted on three counts of willfully failing to file a return, one count for each year from 2016 to 2018.
Attorney information for the accused was not immediately available and they could not be reached for comment.
The Acevedos and Apex Strategy LLC previously surfaced in connection with the ongoing federal corruption investigation in November, when they were the subject of multiple emails released by a special House committee formed to investigate a deferred prosecution agreement alleging a bribery scheme by electric utility ComEd that implicated powerful then-Speaker Michael Madigan.
Last July, federal prosecutors filed the deferred prosecution agreement revealing that ComEd will pay $200 million as part of a deal to resolve a criminal investigation into a scheme in which authorities say the utility giant admitted to arranging jobs and payments for associates of an elected official, referred to only as “Public Official A," for nearly a decade in exchange for legislation favorable to the company.
The court filing identified "Public Official A" as speaker of the Illinois House, a description that fit only Madigan, who has not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing and has repeatedly denied any involvement or knowledge of the alleged scheme.
Two former ComEd executives and two consultants, including longtime Madigan associate and confidant Mike McClain, were indicted in November on multiple federal charges related to the alleged bribery scheme. All four have since pleaded not guilty.
Following those indictments, more than a dozen House Democrats publicly said they would not support Madigan - who served as speaker of the Illinois House for all but two years since 1983, making him the longest serving statehouse speaker in U.S. history - for another term in the powerful post. Unable to reach the threshold of support needed, he suspended his campaign for the role in January, enabling Democrats to elect Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch the first new speaker in decades. Madigan subsequently resigned his statehouse seat last week and stepped down as chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois on Monday, marking the end of an era in state politics and government.
The special House committee to investigate the allegations raised in the deferred prosecution agreement was formed in September. That committee released a trove of emails and other materials in a document dump on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving that included hundreds of messages from ComEd employees and McClain, a former state lawmaker who worked as a lobbyist for the utility and whose relationship with Madigan dates back to when the two served together in the House for 10 years beginning in 1972.
The documents show that in June 2015, Michael Acevedo corresponded with another firm already lobbying for ComEd, the Roosevelt Group, to draw up a contract between the two consulting companies in which Apex would provide "government relations services" for ComEd under the Roosevelt Group's contract with the utility company. That chain of emails shows that ComEd's then-Vice President Fidel Marquez - who pleaded guilty to bribery charges related to the scandal in September - then internally requested that the Roosevelt Group's contract be increased by $5,000 per month for seven months of that year in accordance with the Apex subcontract.
Days later, Michael Acevedo emailed Marquez to thank him and ComEd "for giving Apex Strategy the opportunity to work together pertaining to government relations" - a message Marquez forwarded to McClain, who responded with a smiley face.
In January 2017, McClain emailed Marquez to say that he had a "good conversation" with Eddie Acevedo, who had just left office.
"His two boys are nice but need a firm monitor. They are lazy," McClain wrote in a list of items he said he discussed with Eddie Acevedo. "He is no longer a Member so he has to eat a little humble pie."
"He has to show up at the meetings on time. Himself. Not his boys representing him. That should go on for the next year and then it can be revisited," McClain continued, adding, "Watch the booze" as well as a list of members of the legislature that Acevedo said he could lobby and a note that Marquez "may now talk to him."
"I will tell our Friend to proceed," McClain said, widely believed to be the term he used in correspondence to refer to Madigan without using his name. The following month, Marquez emailed two ComEd employees to instruct them to reduce the Roosevelt Group's contract by $5,000 per month and increase the contract of another Madigan-affiliated lobbyist, Shaw Decremer, by the same amount, noting, "Eddie Acevedo will now be billed under Shaw Decremer."
Decremer was a longtime Madigan staffer who was one of multiple high-ranking aides in the then-speaker's orbit who were ousted from his organization over allegations of inappropriate conduct or sexual harassment as the "Me Too" movement rocked the statehouse in 2018. Three days after Decremer was quietly removed from Madigan's political operation, emails show McClain reached out to Marquez to say that he had spoken with Eddie Acevedo who "expressed concern for Shaw."
That correspondence also indicated that McClain and Marquez coordinated to move Eddie Acevedo's consulting arrangement from Decremer's contract to that of another Madigan-affiliated former lawmaker-turned-lobbyist for ComEd, John Bradley.
Eddie Acevedo told the Chicago Tribune last June that he was interviewed by the FBI in 2019 about lobbying activity and the consulting fees he was paid by Decremer and Bradley. Per the Chicago Sun-Times, investigators subpoenaed the Illinois secretary of state’s office in March for all records related to the three Acevedos and their company.
The U.S. attorney's office also announced Wednesday charges against another political consultant under a separate indictment as the sprawling corruption investigation continues. In that case, prosecutors allege consultant Roberto Caldero arranged for bribes for Solis and a Chicago Public Schools employee for them to take "official actions" to benefit his clients.
Prosecutors say that in 2016 and 2017, Caldero offered the CPS employee future employment, champagne, discounted event space and admission to an annual benefit for a museum in exchange for assistance with his client seeking a custodial services contract with the district.
To influence Solis - who authorities say was already cooperating with federal investigators - in getting an honorary street name designation for a client's father and a park renamed for the client's grandfather, prosecutors say Caldero in 2016 arranged for campaign contributions to be made to political organizations affiliated with the then-alderman.
Caldero was charged with four counts of wire fraud, two counts of bribery and two counts of using interstate commerce to facilitate bribery. Attorney information for Caldero was not immediately available.