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Arroyo wants probation, challenges forfeiture amount

Monday, Jan 31, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I happen to agree with this up to a point

Former state Rep. Luis Arroyo is asking for probation in his federal corruption case, arguing that imprisoning him would be “no more effective than draining Lake Michigan with a spoon” in curbing corruption.

“Mr. Arroyo is done with politics, and is leading a life away from the spotlight. He spends his days with his family and has learned his lesson,” his lawyers argued in a sentencing memo filed Saturday.

Sending Arroyo to prison wouldn’t have any effect on other politicians’ behavior, his lawyers argued.

Arroyo pleaded guilty last fall to bribery charges that stemmed from a wide-ranging federal public corruption probe in Illinois.

The point where I drastically depart from Arroyo’s attorney is that if his client is let loose without further punishment, it will probably encourage more illegal behavior.

* Tribune

In Arroyo’s filing on Saturday, he took issue with the amount of money the federal government seeks to have him forfeit, partly because it could affect how tough his sentence could be.

He contended the figure should be no more than $7,500. Prosecutors in his plea hearing said they would seek forfeiture of as much $32,500, setting up the dispute with Arroyo. […]

In his motion, Arroyo said he and his wife, through their lobbying company, Spartacus, entered into an agreement with Weiss’ company to lobby the Chicago City Council, a move Arroyo called lawful.

But the Arroyo motion said federal officials were “left to guess” about how much he made in legitimate fees and how much was not, resulting in the officials wanting Arroyo to forfeit too much money.

To drive home his point, Arroyo cited grand jury testimony from Sen. Tony Munoz, D-Chicago; Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside; Rep. Bob Rita, D-Blue Island; and Nicole Budzinski, a former top aide to Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker who is now running for a Downstate congressional seat.

* As noted, some of the people mentioned by Arroyo’s lawyer were merely bystanders

Moreover, the evidence the government relied upon in its version of the offense to argue that all payments made to Mr. Arroyo under the agreement were part of the charged conduct is not as strong as the government argues and the PSR credits. First, it is sparse:

    • State Sen. Munoz testified the first time Mr. Arroyo approached him was May 2019, to arrange a meeting.
    • Nicole Budzinski, a member of Gov. Pritzker’s staff in Spring 2019, testified that Mr. Arroyo was a sweepstakes advocate, but that he never obtained a meeting with the Governor to discuss his interest in the legislation. Ms. Budzinski further testified that Mr. Arroyo could have been seeking a meeting with Gov. Pritzker about “a lot of different things.”
    • State Rep. Rita testified that in Fall 2018, he and Mr. Arroyo discussed legislation, including about sweepstakes. In Spring 2019, Mr. Arroyo advocated for sweepstakes legislation in meetings among House members. Rep. Rita did not know Mr. Arroyo also had a lobbying agreement.
    • State Rep. Zalewski testified that Mr. Arroyo spoke to him once on the House floor in a “wishy washy” fashion about sweepstakes, which Rep. Zalewski thought was a “really silly” issue. More specifically, Rep. Zalewski said Mr. Arroyo “said something to the effect of either I’m interested in this issue or around this issue. So that’s sort of where we left it.” Id. He did not understand Mr. Arroyo to be lobbying.
    • Sen. Link testified that Mr. Arroyo spoke to him in May and July 2018 about sweepstakes, asking “are you okay with it.” Sen. Link did not know what Mr. Arroyo was even referring to. Id. They did not speak again about the issue until Sen. Link was a cooperating witness who arranged meetings to discuss the issue and demand payment for his efforts, which occurred in a brief period beginning in August 2019.

On the other hand, other witnesses testified in the grand jury (and in witness statements provided in proffers or to agents) that Mr. Arroyo did not discuss sweepstakes with them. Still other witnesses testified Mr. Arroyo did not discuss state-level sponsorship or support with them. For example: Sam Panayotovich, a lobbyist involved in gaming issues, testified that Mr. Arroyo lobbied City of Chicago aldermen, which would have been legal, since Mr. Arroyo was not then a city official. In another example, John Adreani, one of VSS’s owners, testified that the contract between his company and Spartacus was to lobby city representatives to keep sweepstakes legal.

Even reading the limited testimony in the government’s favor, Mr. Arroyo’s 2018 meetings alone are not illegal. McDonnell v. United States and its progeny have made it clear that “setting up a meeting, talking to another official, or organizing an event (or agreeing to do so) – without more – does not fit that definition of ‘official act.’” It is clear from the evidence that Mr. Arroyo spoke to many people about sweepstakes gaming and all its possibilities. To the extent those discussions were to arrange meetings, or to have a “wishy washy” or similar discussion about a topic on and off the legislative agenda, those conversations are acceptable and certainly not criminal. The loss amount should be $7500.

       

18 Comments
  1. - northernwatersports - Monday, Jan 31, 22 @ 11:31 am:

    Probation??
    REALLY??
    The government can let him keep all his ill-gotten gains, and forget any financial benefits he may have received. The ONLY WAY that politicians will control their corrupt behaviors is to know that they will end up in jail, and lose their individual freedoms (no movement, no job, controlled and limited access to family/visitors).
    As long as human beings know that they really won’t suffer the shame and difficulties for engaging in illegal, immoral and unethical behavior, they’ll continue to do it.
    I say forgo the money, throw him in prison, tarnish his future. That’s the real price he knows he should pay. Heck, he already is trying to persuade the judge that corruption will continue even if he pays more money and serves time in jail??
    How about he just finds the internal honor and fortitude to just admit that he should be punished.


  2. - northernwatersports - Monday, Jan 31, 22 @ 11:43 am:

    Ohhhhh, I think not.

    Let me get this straight…he thinks he should pay less restitution, AND not go to prison? His logic is…
    trust me, I wouldn’t do it again? I’ve learned my lesson. NO.
    Your behavior has only continued to perpetuate the decline in the trust, faith and integrity of the democratic system and norms of American LAW.
    Let him keep all his ill-gotten gains, and throw him in prison.
    I hold my elected representatives, at all levels of government, to the highest standard possible for integrity, candor, intelligence and HONESTY.
    He took bribes, he gained money from dishonesty, using his office to influence those bribes.
    Send him to prison and he will truly learn his lesson. Other pols WILL pay attention.


  3. - Thomas Paine - Monday, Jan 31, 22 @ 11:48 am:

    The Feds should agree to probation with the stipulation the Arroyo agrees to forfeit his GA pension benefits.

    The argument over how much should be repaid really appears to me to be laying the groundwork for a claim he did not commit official acts while in office that warrant pension forfeiture.

    I don’t care nearly as much about whether arroyo serves time or repays $30K in fees as I do the pension benefits which could be far, far more.

    The Feds ought to send a clear message that pension forfeiture will be part of any corruption plea deal going forward.


  4. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 31, 22 @ 11:52 am:

    Arroyo should ask for a “Vrdolyak Special”, be glad if they give it to him and move on.

    The best thing this case gave was the “Arroyo Rule” in the House, and now it’s in full effect. Will be difficult for any House member to stay with… an indictment


  5. - Ebur-floozy - Monday, Jan 31, 22 @ 11:59 am:

    The filing says GARS already suspended his pension, TPaine. They use it to bolster their argument he’s been through the ringer enough.


  6. - hvac tech - Monday, Jan 31, 22 @ 12:00 pm:

    Arroyo made a significant error in his statement; what he meant to say was “no more effective than draining Lake Michigan with a spoon an eyedropper”


  7. - Occasional Quipper - Monday, Jan 31, 22 @ 12:27 pm:

    == Sending Arroyo to prison wouldn’t have any effect on other politicians’ behavior, his lawyers argued. ==

    What about the deterrent effect of “if you do the crime, you do the time?” What am I missing here.


  8. - Candy Dogood - Monday, Jan 31, 22 @ 12:29 pm:

    ===pleaded guilty===

    There is zero doubt to Arroyo’s guilt. Sentencing should be the maximum for the charges he plead guilty to.

    ===He spends his days with his family and has learned his lesson===

    I do not understand how “spending his days with his family” equates to learning a lesson. That’s the goal in retirement, to spend days with his family. He has suffered no meaningful consequences.

    The political consequences of him receiving just probation is not something that we really should be dealing with as a state. So many of us already believe that our state government and our political system is or has been inherently corrupt for most or all of our lives, regardless of the political party.

    We need to set better standards for ourselves.

    The State of Illinois deserves better than we’ve spent the last several decades electing and hopefully the judge understands that as they consider the sentence for this blatantly unapologetic felon.


  9. - Regular democrat - Monday, Jan 31, 22 @ 12:32 pm:

    So he not going to the ward office anymore? He not going to be involved behind the scenes helping his kid get reelected or assisting in his pals campaign for congress? Not likely hes a political lifer


  10. - Helm - Monday, Jan 31, 22 @ 12:46 pm:

    This is a joke. Arroyo should do time. This is the one thing he was caught on. He was trying to shake down a whole lot of others during his time in the ILGA. To think he’s not going to stay involved w his kid at the County and his protege Marcelino García at Water Rec while also earning six figures at Cook County Health System is ridiculous.

    Sparticus Consulting will pop up again. He can’t help himself.


  11. - Been There - Monday, Jan 31, 22 @ 1:09 pm:

    My guess is these arguments have more to do with the attorney and his outstanding legal bills.
    He paid an attorney fee of $20 grand in Dec but then he loaned himself $115,000 which wiped out the account. He also took time to write little Louie a $1,000 campaign check. He might be paying legal fees personally also so his lawyer might be scrambling for him to keep as much as he can.


  12. - Steve - Monday, Jan 31, 22 @ 1:40 pm:

    Arroyo’s lawyers may have given many criminals a new creative defense for avoiding jail.


  13. - Pundent - Monday, Jan 31, 22 @ 2:17 pm:

    Arroyo needs to go to prison for violating the laws he was sworn to uphold. Will it deter others in a similar situation? I don’t know, and I don’t care. Sometimes the consequences are purely punitive to the guilty and I’m ok with that.


  14. - Dave - Monday, Jan 31, 22 @ 2:48 pm:

    The sad part of this corruption case for Arroyo is that it has also tainted his son - who is up for reelection this summer. I believe he is going to have an extremely hard time keeping his seat and justifying why the voters in his Cook County District should retain him as their Commissioner. I believe former Cook Commissioner Eddie Reyes (who is running for his old seat) will be triumphant over Arroyo Jr. this time.


  15. - Oldtimer - Monday, Jan 31, 22 @ 5:17 pm:

    fwiw, in over 30 years involvement with state government, Rep Arroyo is in my top 3 of worst legislators I’ve ever crossed paths. Giving him an Appropriations committee chairmanship was an absolute travesty. No one should be the slightest bit surprised he is facing a prison term.


  16. - Oldtimer #2 - Monday, Jan 31, 22 @ 10:38 pm:

    Agree with Oldtime at 5:17 pm. Arroyo was ripe and ready to “cash in” in any way he could once he became chair of the Appropriations public safety committee which included IDOT, Corrections, State Police, etc. He should be given more time and pay more $$ for his betrayal of the public’s trust.


  17. - Woody - Tuesday, Feb 1, 22 @ 2:22 pm:

    He gets to keep his pension??? NO WAY. That should be a standard part of the punishment for corrupt politicians.


  18. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Feb 1, 22 @ 2:29 pm:

    ===He gets to keep his pension?===

    Who said that?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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