Ed Burke Trial

Ex-Chicago Ald. Ed Burke sentenced in federal corruption case

Burke, 80, is the longest City Council member in Chicago history with a 54-year tenure

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Former Chicago Ald. Ed Burke has been sentenced to prison and a substantial fine after he was found guilty on 13 counts of corruption last year.

Burke was sentenced to two years in prison and a $2 million fine after he was convicted of illegally using his power to win private law business from developers to threatening one of Chicago’s cultural icons for his own benefit.

Monday morning, Burke, dressed in a dark suit with a green tie, with an American flag lapel pin, arrived at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse Monday morning, accompanied by his wife, children and supporters. Both the courtroom and the overflow courtroom were at capacity, NBC 5 political reporter Mary Ann Ahern said.

In Burke's courtroom, supporters included Pete Andrews -- Burke's former right-hand man, who was exonerated by jury members last year -- three Catholic priests and at least a dozen members of Burke's family.

In the overflow courtroom, Ald. Nick Sposato was present.

Prosecutors had sought a sentence of 10 years in prison in the case, while defense attorneys pushed for a more lenient sentence based on Burke's age and record of service.

The court set the financial value of the crimes was set at $215,000, which came with a federal recommended sentence of 78-to-97 months.

“Burke has yet to express a single ounce of remorse, and has not taken a single ounce of responsibility for what he did,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Streicker said in court.

Streicker argued that Burke’s conduct “reinforces Chicago’s reputation nationwide for corruption.” She also said that Burke got “greedy” and that he chose to engage in criminal activity.

Burke’s defense attorneys argued for leniency, citing his age and his charitable acts that they say he did for reasons of personal faith, not because of any sort of tangible benefit.

“I must say that I have never, ever seen an outpouring of support like we have seen in this case,” Charles Sklarsky said.

Burke also spoke on his own behalf as the sentencing hearing wound down.

“I would ask you honor for compassion and mercy,” he said. “The blame for this is mine and mine alone. I regret the pain and the sorrow that I have caused my family and my dear friends.”

Burke's sentencing takes place just three days after a federal judge denied a last-ditch effort to postpone the hearing until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules in a separate bribery case, according to the Chicago Tribune. Defense attorneys asked for a delay until the court makes a decision in the corruption case of former Portage, Indiana, Mayor James Snyder.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall said she agreed with prosecutors that the high court’s decision in Snyder's case “will have little or no impact” on the sentence that Burke receives, the Tribune reported.

Federal prosecutors, in a 51-page court filing, pushed for a 10-year prison sentence, which would amount to one of the harshest public corruption sentences handed down in the city’s federal court in the last decade. Burke is 80 years old.

“He abused and exploited his office by pursuing his own personal and financial interests over a course of years,” prosecutors wrote in the memo. “Again and again, Burke used his significant political power to solicit and receive bribes from entities with business before the City of Chicago — all so he could obtain legal business for his private law firm.”

Meanwhile, Burke’s lawyers are asking a judge to give him no prison time, which they say would “be a powerful and just expression of mercy for an 80-year-old man in the twilight of his life who has given so much of himself to so many and for so many years.”

Monday's hearing began disagreements over the value of Burke's crimes, as dollar figures can be tied to federal guidelines for sentencing. The prosecution argued the crimes totaled $830,000.

After three hours of discussion, Judge Kendall determined the correct value was $215,000.

A federal jury found Burke guilty in December of racketeering, bribery and attempted extortion after prosecutors argued Burke used his political clout to pressure people and businesses for personal gain.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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