Alderman is accused of using his position to solicit law firm business; his wife is a state justice

Criminal Justice

A longtime Chicago alderman has been charged with attempted extortion for allegedly soliciting business for his law firm from a fast-food company seeking a remodeling permit.

Alderman Edward Burke was charged Wednesday in a federal criminal complaint unsealed Thursday, reported the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. Burke was seeking business for his law firm Klafter & Burke, which handles property tax appeals, the complaint said.

FBI agents raided Burke’s city hall and ward offices Nov. 29, the same day that Burke’s wife, Anne Burke, was sworn in to a second 10-year term as an Illinois Supreme Court justice. Anne Burke kept her judicial seat in a retention vote in November.

The restaurant company was identified only as “Company A” in the complaint. The Sun-Times, however, said the company was Burger King.

The complaint cites evidence from recorded phone calls and emails.

The charge against Burke stems from the Burger King’s quest for a remodeling permit in 2017 for a restaurant in Burke’s ward. Burke is accused of causing a work stoppage for more than two months during the remodeling after complaining that he had never signed off on a driveway permit.

Burke had solicited business for his law firm from the restaurant company during a meeting at a country club before the project began, then decided to play “hard ball” when the company did not deliver the business, the complaint said.

In a later meeting after the work stoppage, Burke again solicited business for his law firm and sought a campaign donation for another local politician, the complaint said. The company received a driveway permit after pledging to deliver work to Burke’s firm, though it didn’t follow through on that promise.

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The company also made a $10,000 donation to the politician’s campaign committee, but the amount was later reduced to the campaign limit of $5,600.

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Author: Edward Lott

Edward Lott, Ph.D., M.B.A. is president and managing partner of Allentown-based ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing, Inc., a local search and digital marketing agency that offers clients lead generation, local seo and Google Maps Domination. Ed has been a digital entrepreneur since 1994, having discovered very early the opportunities the Internet offered. After having spent over two decades helping attorneys grow their practice, Ed joined the staff of ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing as President and Managing Partner, where he is expanding the agency’s cutting-edge services to the legal market. A true marketing futurist, Ed's vast experience working directly with attorneys has given him a unique perspective on law firm marketing not found in many other digital marketing agencies. Ed has reshaped the offerings of ForLawFirmsOnly to focus on growing law firms through a holistic approach to digital marketing evident in the reformulated lead generation processes now in place. Want to learn more about ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing, their lead generation programs, or just talk to Ed about his visions for helping law firms grow? Call him at 855-943-8736.

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