Prosecutors see no reason to delay Madigan and McClain trial

MCCLAIN MADIGAN

CHICAGO – Federal prosecutors said Tuesday that former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s corruption trial shouldn’t be delayed while the U.S. Supreme Court considers another case focused on the federal bribery statute.

Prosecutors wrote that most of the charges Madigan faces at his trial – set to start in April – don’t involve the federal bribery law. They noted that 15 of 23 counts Madigan faces wouldn’t be affected by the Supreme Court decision in Snyder v. United States. 

The Supreme Court decided in December to take up that case, which involves the former mayor of Portage, Indiana, who was convicted of accepting a $13,000 bribe. A decision in the Snyder case is expected in June. 

Prosecutors argued Tuesday that a delay could affect their case, which they allege encompasses a nearly decade long conspiracy by two state-regulated companies to dole out jobs and contracts to Madigan in exchange for favorable legislation in Springfield. 

“This case involves witness testimony that concerns events that occurred, in some cases, more than a decade ago,” prosecutors wrote. “Any further delay (particularly the extended delay the defense seeks) poses potential challenges to the future availability of witnesses and impairment of their memories about events that occurred long ago.”

They also argued that the court’s long backlog of cases could further delay the trial.

“The government, the public, and this Court have a strong interest in finality and bringing this criminal case to a close,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu wrote in the motion. 

Prosecutors noted that “the Northern District of Illinois ranks almost last in the entire country in terms of the time it takes to resolve federal criminal cases; this district is in 92nd place out of 94 U.S. district courts when it comes to the median time from criminal felony case filing to disposition.”

Madigan and co-defendant Michael McClain had asked U.S. District Court Judge John Robert Blakey to stay proceedings in the case or reschedule the trial date to the fall of 2024, after the Supreme Court decides the Synder case.

Madigan served in the Illinois House from 1971 to 2021. He served as speaker of the Illinois House from 1983 to 1995 and again from 1997 to 2021. That made him one of the state’s most powerful politicians, especially in combination with his role as head of the Democratic party in the state. He faces 23 counts of racketeering, bribery and official misconduct as part of a federal indictment. Madigan said he was just doing his job as a politician. He has pleaded not guilty.

Madigan was initially charged along with McClain in March 2022 with 22 counts of racketeering and bribery for his alleged improper dealings with the state’s largest utility, ComEd. Prosecutors further alleged that he used his political power to unlawfully steer business to his private law firm, Madigan & Getzendanner. In October 2022, prosecutors filed a superseding indictment that charged Madigan and McClain with conspiracy related to an alleged corruption scheme involving AT&T Illinois.

In May 2023, McClain, another lobbyist and two Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) executives were found guilty of conspiring to influence and reward Madigan order to assist with the passage of legislation favorable to the electric utility company, in addition to multiple bribery and record falsification charges.

Their sentencing has been delayed in order to wait on the Supreme Court’s decision in the Snyder case.

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