…Adding… The indictment is here.
A real estate developer has been indicted on federal charges alleging he steered legal work to powerful Ald. Edward Burke in exchange for help at City Hall with a permit and $2 million in tax-increment financing for a Northwest Side development.
The charges against Charles Cui, of Lake Forest, were the first to be brought in connection with the ongoing City Hall corruption investigation since Burke himself was accused more than three months ago of attempting to shake down two businessmen seeking to renovate a fast-food restaurant in the 14th Ward.
Cui, 48, was charged in an four-count indictment made public Friday with federal program bribery, using interstate commerce to facilitate bribery and official misconduct.
Burke was not named or charged in the indictment against Cui, but the charges make clear he was the alderman who was allegedly bribed.
Charles Cui, 48, allegedly steered the business to Burke after the city denied a permit for a sign for a retailer at the project site in the 4900 block of West Irving Park Road in the Portage Park neighborhood. The project includes a Binny’s Beverage Depot and a Culver’s restaurant, public records show.
That permit was critical to Cui, who was the managing partner of the company that owned the property. The company stood to have it tenant either cancel the lease or lose as much as $750,000 if it was unable to obtain the permit because the retailer could pay that much less in rent if it didn’t get the sign. […]
Burke motioned to approve the redevelopment project and voted for it at a City Council meeting in March 2016. The tax increment financing deal was worth $2 million for the project.
After the city denied the permit for the sign, Cui allegedly emailed Burke, asking him “to look into the matter.”
Cui’s email said the retailer “really needs it, otherwise they will cancel the lease, or ask for significant rent reduction,” according to the indictment.
*** UPDATE *** Mayor-elect Lightfoot…
Today’s charges add more definition to the utterly corrupt way in which Alderman Ed Burke has exploited his position and power. This is exactly the kind of conduct that the voters mandated must change. My commitment is that we will be vigilant in cleaning up corruption throughout all of City government. I was elected ten days ago to build a government where you don’t have to give to get—where Chicagoans can receive basic City services, and where being business owners can get signs and permits without bribes and delays.
We’re going to build a transparent and accountable City government that Chicagoans can trust to put their needs first. That’s why I’ve consistently called for critical ethics reforms, including banning profiting from public service. The public gave us a mandate for change, and we intend to deliver.