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Once again, we learn that shady gambling rackets help breed corruption

Thursday, May 26, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Steve Kim…

Yesterday’s sentencing of Luis Arroyo is just the latest example of Kwame Raoul’s failure to keep his campaign promises. In 2018, Raoul promised that he would tackle corruption, and yet he has taken the backseat and shown no initiative to take on his corrupt cronies like Mike Madigan.

Attorney General candidate Steve Kim released the following statement following the sentencing:

Kwame Raoul has proven that his ‘promises’ are just empty words. What has he done to tackle corruption in this state? He stood idly by while federal investigators took action. There is a reason Illinois remains the most corrupt state in the country: career politicians protecting their cronies time and time again. I’ve attacked corruption throughout my legal career, and I will tackle it as Attorney General. Unlike Kwame Raoul, when I make a promise, I intend to deliver.

* From an insider at Comptroller Mendoza’s operation…

If you’re doing a round-up of stories on Luis Arroyo’s well-deserved sentence, feel free to note that his final, sleazy act as state rep, post-dating his resignation to take effect the following day so he could get an extra month’s salary, prompted a law banning the practice. Comptroller Mendoza was not happy to learn she’d have to pay him & Marty Sandoval an extra month’s salary and championed a bill to end the “exit bonus”:

* John Milhiser…

Luis Arroyo was sentenced to 57 months in prison yesterday for his role in attempting to bribe public officials to help with gambling machine legislation. Arroyo’s conduct is indicative of the corruption that has destroyed the public’s trust in our state government.

It shows exactly why we need John Milhiser, a corruption busting career prosecutor, as our next Secretary of State in the office that touches more lives than any other in state government. Illinois can’t afford to go backward with more career politicians.

John Milhiser released the following statement following the Arroyo sentencing:

From 1970 to 2010, there were more than 1500 corruption convictions in the state of Illinois. Obviously that trend is continuing with the indictment of powerful politicians like Ed Burke and Mike Madigan, and further illustrated by the sentencing of Luis Arroyo. Our state can’t go backwards with more career politicians. The Democrats in this race are pointing fingers at one another, each accusing the other of being more corrupt. We need a Secretary of State who knows what it takes to root out corruption from the inside. I’m the only candidate in this race who can get the job done.

They’re all missing an obvious angle here.

* One thing that could be done right now is for Chicago and/or the state to actually get serious about eliminating those ubiquitous and shady sweepstakes machines. Illegal or even kinda-illegal gambling breeds corruption. Period. The city and state turns a blind eye to the sweepstakes machines, but the city won’t opt-in to legal video gaming so that small businesses can make legitimate money off of something people are gonna do anyway. It says more about city leaders than they may believe. WTTW

Former Illinois state Rep. Luis Arroyo, who last year pleaded guilty to a bribery scheme in which he offered a member of the Illinois Senate monthly payments to support a bill that sought to legalize sweepstakes machines, has been sentenced to 57 months in federal prison

​​U.S. District Judge Steven Seeger issued the sentence during an in-person hearing Wednesday afternoon in the Dirksen Federal Building downtown, nearly seven months after Arroyo pleaded guilty.

“You took bribes, you corrupted yourself, you corrupted the political process,” the judge said. “You tried to corrupt the law itself. You tried to change Illinois for a corrupt reason. … What you did was a frontal assault on the very idea of representative government. The public did not get what they deserve.” […]

On top of the prison time, Arroyo must also forfeit $32,500, the amount Seeger determined he had received in bribes from Weiss’ company. Arroyo must turn himself in by Aug. 31 to begin serving his sentence.

* Tribune

According to the 15-page indictment, Weiss paid bribes to Arroyo beginning in November 2018 in exchange for Arroyo’s promotion of legislation beneficial to Weiss’ company, Collage LLC, which specialized in the sweepstakes machines.

Weiss was also in business with another sweepstakes machine company, V.S.S. Inc., run by an ex-Chicago cop who was fired for consorting with a drug trafficker, the Tribune has previously reported.

The bribes were paid via off-the-books lobbying payments to Arroyo’s consulting firm, Spartacus 3 LLC, which Arroyo failed to report to state regulators, according to the charges.

Both Weiss and Arroyo also conspired in 2019 to pay then-state Sen. Terry Link $2,500 a month in kickbacks in exchange for the senator’s support on the proposed sweepstakes game legislation.

* Sun-Times

Arroyo and Weiss allegedly tried to enlist Link in the scheme, and Arroyo gave Link a $2,500 bribe payment in August 2019. But Link turned out to be cooperating with investigators in hopes of leniency at his own sentencing hearing. He has since pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return.

“You betrayed the public, you betrayed the people that you promised to serve, you sold out your office, you sold out your constituents, you sold out yourself,” Seeger told Arroyo.

The judge said, “You can’t read the Chicago Tribune or the Chicago Sun-Times for very long without coming across a story about public corruption. The federal courthouse in Chicago is a beehive of activity when it comes to public corruption.”

But Gillespie wrote in one brief that Arroyo was undeterred from his crime by such news reports. Seeger didn’t like that comment, either.

…Adding… Delia Ramirez…

Below is a statement by 3rd Congressional District candidate Delia Ramirez on the sentencing of former State Representative and 36th Ward Alderman Gil Villegas’ mentor, Luis Arroyo.

“The sentencing of former State Rep. Luis Arroyo is the latest example of an elected official going to jail for betraying the public trust. While former Rep. Luis Arroyo bribed elected officials in Springfield over sweepstakes legislation, his protége Alderman Gil Villegas introduced similar sweepstakes legislation in the City of Chicago. Villegas did this at the request of James T. Weiss, the same individual who has been charged as the source of the bribes in the Arroyo corruption scandal.

“Although these charges have been public for over two years, Alderman Gil Villegas has never denounced the corrupt behavior of his political mentor, Luis Arroyo. Villegas has unapologetically taken more than $40,000 in campaign contributions from Arroyo. Voters deserve an explanation for these connections. Villegas’ silence speaks volumes.

“Our families can not afford to be represented by elected officials who are beholden to corporate interests and corrupt politicians. If Alderman Villegas can’t even condemn his personal mentor who has been convicted and sentenced for corruption, why should 3rd district voters trust him to stand up for them in Washington?

“The voters of the 3rd Congressional District deserve to be represented by an accountable and ethical leader in Washington. I am that leader and I have the proven track record of getting results for working families.”


  1. - OneMan - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 11:29 am:

    So, does the Chicago agreement with the casino operator create some sort of ‘out’ or revenue sharing change if the city allows video gaming?

  2. - SuburbanRepublican - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 11:30 am:

    I seem to recall legislation filed several years before the Arroyo case by Republican lawmakers to do away with the extra month pay for early resignations. The Comptroller didn’t jump on the issue then when it was introduced just for being the right policy but only after scandal emerged and the shady practice was spotlighted.

  3. - Suburbanon - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 11:32 am:

    Your point about why Chicago would allow the unregulated sweepstakes games rather than permit regulated video gaming is a head scratcher. It should be a no-brainer. Chicago is always hunting for new revenue that doesn’t raise property taxes. Now that the Casino is approved, maybe that will change, unless there is an agreement with the Casino not to allow video gaming in the neighborhoods. The Chicago way.

  4. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 11:44 am:

    IF Milhiser wants to “go after corruption” he should be running for AG, not SoS. As a Sangamon County Republican, the prospect of a Merit Commission, as opposed to a Civil Service Commission, must be too tempting.

  5. - BWA - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 11:46 am:

    Mendoza did the same exact thing she heads for the fainting couch over each and every time this comes up. She took the full month’s pay when she left to be city clerk.

  6. - 47th Ward - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 11:49 am:

    ===when I make a promise, I intend to deliver.===

    Steve Kim couldn’t deliver a pizza unless Ken Griffin loaned him the car and cash for gasoline. And also the pizza.

  7. - JB13 - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 11:49 am:

    – IF Milhiser wants to “go after corruption” he should be running for AG, not SoS –

    Well, OK, but that also won’t matter because it’s my understanding that the AG also can’t do anything about state level corruption. I mean, just ask anyone who has spent the last few decades defending Lisa Madigan and Kwame Raoul. Nothing they can do. No, sir. No how.

    But all snark aside: I think it commendable to have people who want to fight corruption in any and every elected office.
    Our state would be much better off for it.

  8. - Paddyrollingstone - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 11:55 am:

    47th Ward - that is legitimately funny. Kudos.

  9. - Nefarious Veneer - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 12:09 pm:

    Mendoza’s links reminded me that 41 people voted against that in the House, among them, Reps. Durkin, Demmer, Bourne and Brady.

  10. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 12:26 pm:

    ===I think it commendable to have people who want to fight corruption in any and every elected office.===

    Other than the AG, isn’t that why everyone has an IG? Just support the IG, report any whiff of corruption. The IG’s, if required, are to refer their cases to prosecutors / law enforcement agencies if that’s the appropriate entity to deal with the matter.

  11. - cermak_rd - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 1:04 pm:

    I was unaware it was not allowed in the city. I live in Berwyn and there are plenty of video gaming machines in bars, a local tapas joint, coffee shops, standalone businesses. So far it hasn’t seemed to have negatively affected quality of life issues. Just given the business owners another option to rake in some legal cash that taxes are paid on. Win-win.

  12. - Dotnonymous - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 1:12 pm:

    Corruption linked to gambling…I’ll be danged.

  13. - Homebody - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 1:55 pm:

    Every state that has litigated the “free to play” or other versions of sweepstakes machines has ended up concluding that they constitute prohibited gambling devices under each and every different existing state law.

    As far as I know, no states attorney has bothered to even try in Illinois.

  14. - Paddyrollingstone - Thursday, May 26, 22 @ 2:33 pm:

    Not that journalistic accuracy counts for much, but the Sun Times is incorrect when they wrote, “Gillespie wrote in one brief that Arroyo was undeterred from his crime by such news reports.” Mike Gillespie did not write that in the brief. Another Arroyo attorney at a different firm did.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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* Open thread
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* * Live Coverage * Jimmy Weiss trial
* Live coverage
* Yesterday's stories

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