Ed Burke Trial

Ed Burke sentencing: What he got, what prosecutors pushed for and why it matters

Burke will report to prison in the early fall, according to officials

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Former Chicago Ald. Ed Burke, who served more than 50 years on the City Council as arguably the most powerful alderman in city history, was sentenced to prison in connection with a federal corruption case.

Burke was also assessed a significant fine and will have supervised release after his prison term concludes, a judge ruled on Monday.

Here is a breakdown of what Burke was convicted of, what his sentence was, and when he’ll report to federal prison.

What was Burke Convicted Of?

Burke was found guilty in December of racketeering, bribery and attempted extortion in connection to multiple incidents while he was serving on the Chicago City Council.

He was convicted of using political clout to pressure people and businesses for personal gain, and was accused of steering business toward his private law practice as part of those efforts.

Those businesses included contractors working on the site of the old Chicago Post Office, as well as a Burger King in his ward and Chicago’s Field Museum.

Burke was found guilty of soliciting legal fees in exchange for approvals and TIF funding for a redevelopment project at the Old Main Post Office, of soliciting work for his private law firm in connection to the development of a Burger King in his City Council ward, and of accepting a bribe to push for TIF funding for a development project.

He also was convicted of threatening to oppose admission fee increases at the Field Museum because the institution failed to respond to an inquiry he made about an internship for a friend’s child.

What was Burke Sentenced To?

Burke was sentenced to two years in federal prison. He was also assessed a $2 million fine and will serve one year of supervised release after he is released from prison.

What was the Recommended Sentence?

The value of the crimes was set at $215,877, which comes with a federal recommended sentence of 6 ½ to 8 years. Prosecutors had originally sought a value of $829,525, and said guidelines would have called for 10-to-12 ½ years in prison.

The judge in the case opted to impose a more lenient sentence based in part on Burke’s age and because of his philanthropic efforts, which were widely praised in letters received by the court during the sentencing phase of the case.

What Did Judge Kendall Intend With Her Ruling?

U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Kendall argued that her sentence was an attempt to send a message to other politicians to not engage in the same behaviors, and to rebuild the public’s trust after the case concluded.

She also said that Burke had already suffered a "terrible fall" during the case, and that her sentence would reflect a belief that he was unlikely to commit further crimes.

"He's no longer in office, no longer practicing law. It's a terrible fall," she said. "No reason for me to think that Mr. Burke is going to commit another crime in his 81st year."

Prosecutors argued that Burke did "not take a single step to accept any responsibility," and encouraged Kendall to send a message that corruption in the public sphere would not be tolerated.

Defense attorneys argued that Burke's age should play a factor in the sentencing, and said that Burke's philanthropic endeavors and charitable efforts should as well.

When Will Burke Report to Prison?

According to officials, Burke will be due to report to prison to begin his sentence on Sept. 23.

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