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Federal judge dismisses Madigan-related bribery charge against ComEd

An American flag flies in front of a large red and gray building with ComEd's logo
File photo
Chicago Sun-Times
A ComEd storefront

A federal judge agreed Monday to dismiss the bribery charge against ComEd that has loomed over the utility company since 2020 for its role in a scheme that helped lead to the indictment of former Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan.

While significant, the dismissal of the criminal charge against ComEd is not surprising. Under the terms of a deferred prosecution agreement between prosecutors and the utility, the feds agreed to seek dismissal as long as ComEd held up its end of the three-year deal.

During a brief court hearing Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane MacArthur told U.S. District Judge John Kness that ComEd “has fully complied with the terms” of that deal. That included paying a $200 million fine and cooperating with investigators.

ComEd attorney Nicole Allen told the judge the utility is “very pleased to see this matter come to an end.”

ComEd CEO Gil Quiniones also said in a statement that “ComEd remains committed, at all levels of the company, to the highest standards of integrity and ethical behavior for our business, and to continuing to build the trust of our customers.”

The dismissal means ComEd no longer faces criminal charges and will avoid conviction, while others have faced prison time as a result of the aggressive investigation that targeted Madigan. While ComEd has admitted to the conduct at the heart of the feds’ probe, its lawyers have insisted on pleading not guilty in court.

The feds first implicated Madigan in wrongdoing when they filed the criminal case against ComEd in July 2020, using the moniker “Public Official A” to refer to the Southwest Side Democrat.

MacArthur noted that Monday was “the three-year anniversary” of the case. Kness scheduled Monday’s hearing shortly after the feds filed it.

Since then, a federal jury has convicted four people for the conduct at issue. Madigan confidant Michael McClain, ex-ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker and onetime City Club President Jay Doherty all face serious prison time for conspiring to bribe Madigan to benefit ComEd.

The four arranged for jobs, contracts and money for Madigan allies in an illegal bid to influence him as legislation moved through Springfield between 2011 and 2019. It took ComEd from a “dire” financial situation in the 2000s to record earnings in 2022.

Former ComEd executive Fidel Marquez has also pleaded guilty to a bribery conspiracy. But he agreed in January 2019 to cooperate with investigators, making secret recordings of his friends and colleagues for the FBI. He has not been sentenced.

Meanwhile, Madigan faces trial in April on a racketeering indictment that alleges he also participated in the illegal ComEd conduct. McClain is set to go to trial again alongside Madigan on additional charges. AT&T Illinois and its former president Paul La Schiazza, have also been charged as a result of the investigation.

AT&T Illinois struck a deal with prosecutors similar to ComEd’s.

There have been others, too. Former state Rep. Edward “Eddie” Acevedo and two sons, Michael and Alex Acevedo, have been sentenced to prison time for tax crimes uncovered during the course of the investigation.

And former Madigan chief of staff Timothy Mapes and ex-state Sen. Annazette Collins still face separate trials later this year resulting from the probe.

Jon Seidel covers federal courts for the Chicago Sun-Times.
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