Exelon paying legal bills for two former executives of ComEd 4 convicted of bribery

COMED4 MADIGAN

CHICAGO — Exelon, the parent company for Commonwealth Edison, has been paying the legal fees for two now-convicted former Edison executives who were part of a conspiracy to bribe former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, WBEZ has learned.

The move has created an unusual dynamic. On one hand, the company’s subsidiary, ComEd, is cooperating with federal investigators under a deferred prosecution agreement and paid a $200 million fine for attempting to “influence and reward” Madigan in a long-running bribery scheme.

Yet the Exelon-financed legal teams for former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore and former ComEd Executive Vice President John Hooker spent close to two months telling a federal judge and jury that their clients — and the power company — had done nothing illegal.

Past criminal defendants in Chicago’s federal courthouse have faced multimillion-dollar legal tabs for their defense lawyers. The pro-bono costs associated with former Illinois Gov. George Ryan’s legal defense, for example, have been estimated as high as $20 million. 

Pramaggiore and Hooker, at least for the moment, are being spared that burden under an indemnity guarantee spelled out in Exelon’s bylaws, a ComEd spokeswoman told WBEZ.

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The company wouldn’t divulge how much it has paid to Pramaggiore and Hooker’s legal teams, which comprised at least five attorneys apiece based on federal court filings.

ComEd maintains that no ratepayer dollars are being used for the expenses. 

Earlier this month, Pramaggiore and Hooker were convicted on all counts for conspiring to bribe Madigan and falsifying company documents as part of a strategy to win Madigan’s backing for legislation that fattened ComEd’s bottom line by billions of dollars.

In exchange, the company complied with Madigan’s frequent demands for company jobs, contracts and even a board appointment for his supporters.

Exelon did not pay the legal fees of Pramaggiore and Hooker’s convicted co-defendants, former ComEd lobbyists Michael McClain and Jay Doherty. They did not qualify under Exelon’s indemnification program for current and former company directors and officers, ComEd said.

“Consistent with practices at many other companies, Anne Pramaggiore and John Hooker, as former company executives, were entitled under corporate bylaws to payment of their attorneys’ fees, which later could be subject to repayment,” ComEd spokeswoman Shannon Breymaier told WBEZ. “Any fees paid by the company are excluded from rates and their cost is not recovered from customers.

“Michael McClain and Jay Doherty were never company employees and were not entitled to payment of their legal fees,” she said.

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