Judge grants ComEd 4 motion to postpone sentencing as U.S. Supreme Court reviews case focusing on federal bribery statute

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Artist rendition of the ComEd trial. | Photo courtesy of The Center Square

A judge on Monday temporarily postponed sentencing dates for four former executives and lobbyists at the state’s largest utility company convicted of conspiring to bribe former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

The ComEd 4 — former state lawmaker and lobbyist Michael McClain, former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker and former contract lobbyist Jay Doherty — had asked the judge to stay the case while the U.S. Supreme Court reviews a case that focuses on the federal bribery statute that the four were convicted under in May.

U.S. District Judge Manish Shah granted part of the defense team’s motion and denied another part at a motion hearing on Monday in Chicago. The judge struck the pending January sentencing dates for the four defendants and got rid of the deadlines for filing sentencing memos.

The pause won’t last forever.

“The parties are on notice to be prepared to file memoranda expeditiously once new dates are set,” according to the judge’s order. “The schedule for the preparation and filing of the remaining Presentence Investigation Reports remains as set.”

The defense attorneys asked last week for a blanket pause on the case because the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up a case that could affect the outcome. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of James E. Snyder v. U.S., which defense attorneys said could upend the ComEd convictions.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide the Synder case by June 2024.

In May, a jury convicted the ComEd 4 in a multi-year scheme to bribe Madigan with no-show jobs, contracts and payments to associates in exchange for support with legislation that would benefit the utility’s bottom line.

McClain and Pramaggiore were convicted of nine counts of conspiracy, bribery and willfully falsifying books and records. Hooker and Doherty were convicted of six counts of conspiracy, bribery and willfully falsifying books and records.

At trial, prosecutors presented secretly recorded videos, wiretapped phone calls and hundreds of emails to show how the four former ComEd executives and lobbyists were “the grandmasters of corruption.”

Prosecutors said that the utility paid out $1.3 million in jobs, contracts and payments to associates of Madigan over eight years in exchange for favorable treatment on legislation in Springfield.

Defense attorneys said the four never bribed anyone and argued the conduct was legal lobbying, including efforts to build goodwill with elected officials.

Madigan, who resigned after losing the House speakership in January 2021, has been charged with 23 counts of racketeering, bribery, and official misconduct alongside McClain in a separate case that could go to trial in April 2024. Madigan has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.

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