As close aides face prison time, Madigan preps for trial against undefeated prosecutors

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Michael McClain, Michael Madigan and Tim Mapes. — Capitol News Illinois

CHICAGO — As former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan prepares for a federal jury to decide whether he ran “a criminal enterprise” as the state’s most powerful politician, he now faces a team of prosecutors emboldened by their perfect record of convictions in two trials.

Madigan, 81, once so dominant that he was known as the “velvet hammer,” was at the heart of the allegations that led to 32 guilty verdicts in those trials. He now faces an uphill battle to avoid guilty convictions to match his former chief of staff Tim Mapes and longtime political confidant Mike McClain.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Blakey told Madigan’s attorneys during a brief hearing last week that he was determined to start the former speaker’s racketeering trial April 1, as scheduled, putting an end to delays that will see more than two years elapse between his indictment and his trial.

Madigan is set to stand trial alongside McClain, one of his closest aides and confidants dating back to the 1970s, when they served together in the Illinois House.

McClain was convicted in May in a separate but related case along with three other lobbyists for Commonwealth Edison on charges that stemmed from a long-running scheme that saw the utility giant arrange jobs, contracts and payoffs for Madigan’s associates in return for the former speaker’s crucial support.

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