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*** UPDATED x1 - Lightfoot responds *** Developer indicted for allegedly steering legal work to Ald. Burke

Friday, Apr 12, 2019

…Adding… The indictment is here.

* Tribune

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.

* Sun-Times

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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

24 Comments »
  1. - jim - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 11:13 am:

    Was he bribing burke? Or being extorted by Burke?
    Who’s going to testify against whom?


  2. - wordslinger - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 11:17 am:

    This Cui is a real criminal mastermind, detailing in writing to the lawyer he’s firing why he has to do business with Burke.

    And then lying to the federales…. who no doubt already had the email outlining the scheme from the spurned former lawyer.


  3. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 11:23 am:

    I’m rooting for the feds to take Burke down, but there is still such a thing as attorney-client privilege.


  4. - wordslinger - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 11:37 am:

    –but there is still such a thing as attorney-client privilege.–

    Not for ongoing crime-fraud.


  5. - CT Resident - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 11:40 am:

    Not sure if I more glad or surprised this wasn’t another name familiar to Chinatown.


  6. - ;) - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 11:53 am:

    What kind of a loser roots for someone to go to jail and have their life ruined and the lives of their family ruined? Ya, looking at you 3DCheckers.


  7. - Steve - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 11:56 am:

    It appears the Trump Justice Department has a thing for indicting wealthy and powerful people.


  8. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 12:02 pm:

    == Not for ongoing crime-fraud. ==

    The attorney-client communication cannot be the only evidence of a ongoing fraud. How would an attorney advise a client against engaging in fraud if the client’s communication about their plan to engage in fraud was not privileged? Clients have a right to be stupid with their lawyers without their stupidity become non-privileged communications.


  9. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 12:04 pm:

    == Ya, looking at you 3DCheckers. ==

    Give me a break. Burke is a bad person, and this has been a long time coming.


  10. - CookR - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 12:04 pm:

    ===What kind of a loser roots for someone to go to jail===

    The kind of person who believes that an elected official has been corrupting the office for personal profit at the expense of the public trust and efficient honest government . . . and is sick of it.


  11. - Steve - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 12:10 pm:

    - Three Dimensional Checkers -

    This Burke investigation probably will be very, very, big. It’s not just going to be about Lake Forest lawyers…


  12. - ChiLefty - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 12:11 pm:

    Wasn’t this the biggest development in John Arena’s Ward. Wonder if this puts a damper on his hopes of getting an appointment in the new administration? Just asking.


  13. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 12:22 pm:

    Cui’s status as a lawyer may come into play, but lawyers can still hire other lawyers and still have rights as a client. I’d try to suppress those communications if I was Cui.

    I feel some sympathy for Cui. He seems like a guy who got caught up trying to play the game in a very corrupt system. It does not seem like he is a perpetrator of the corrupt system though.


  14. - City Zen - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 12:27 pm:

    Binny’s never got their pole sign.


  15. - Huh? - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 12:41 pm:

    Didn’t Burke learn anything from Operation Silver Shovel? He’s been around long enough to have at least been brushed by it.


  16. - Anonymous - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 12:48 pm:

    Nice attempt to smear Arena, but since he and Burke are enemies he wouldn’t have been involved.


  17. - Amalia - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 1:20 pm:

    ChiLefty, what the what? this is not the first time I have read of someone trying to smear Arena with work with Burke. you don’t have to agree with Arena on, say, affordable housing to say that is just ridiculous


  18. - Dorthea Brown - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 1:36 pm:

    Ed Burke is a great man with a great future.


  19. - Robert the Bruce - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 2:09 pm:

    ==Nice attempt to smear Arena, but since he and Burke are enemies he wouldn’t have been involved.==
    Cui has donated frequently to Arena and Friends of 45, which supports Arena. This doesn’t mean Arena is anything like Burke (he’s not), but it could turn out to be some cause for concern.


  20. - DuPage Saint - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 2:11 pm:

    This is just making Lightfoot’s job of ending aldermanic privilege so much easier


  21. - Rudy’s teeth - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 2:14 pm:

    Wonder if the feds will let Eddie Burke wear his fedora at the Greybar Hotel?


  22. - Just Me 2 - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 3:00 pm:

    ===the voters mandated must change===

    Except for Burke’s ward.


  23. - Terry Salad - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 3:55 pm:

    Just Me2 @ 3PM: Yeah, but the shifty business concerned property in the 45th Ward. Burke’s power as finance committee chair extends well beyond the bounds of the 14th Ward.


  24. - Fast Eddie - Friday, Apr 12, 19 @ 4:15 pm:

    Dear Ms. Grisko -

    If you want to remind those in city government that they work for the people and not the other way around, a good change would be to stop capitalizing the word “city” every time you use it, and only when used as part of the formal legal name “City of Chicago.

    Good luck with the transition,

    Eddie


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