Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » Jimmy Weiss asks for leniency, claiming his corruption would have eventually benefited the state and that he can no longer ‘bribe his way back into business ever again’
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Jimmy Weiss asks for leniency, claiming his corruption would have eventually benefited the state and that he can no longer ‘bribe his way back into business ever again’

Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Let’s go back in time to this June story from Capitol News Illinois

(T)he federal government’s case against politically connected businessman James Weiss, ended Thursday with a jury convicting Weiss on seven counts, including bribery and lying to the FBI.

Federal sentencing guidelines dictate a maximum of 20 years in prison for the most serious of the charges, though those convicted of public corruption have faced wildly different sentences.

* Now, let’s move forward to today in the Sun-Times

Lawyers for James T. Weiss asked U.S. District Judge Steven Seeger to give him a prison sentence of less than 27 months, arguing in part that the bill Weiss wanted to pass would have generated at least one penny in tax revenue on each transaction on so-called sweepstakes machines. […]

“[Weiss’] unlawful actions were designed to protect his business, the legitimate income that provides for his family, and to institute clear regulation of the sweepstakes industry,” [Weiss’ attorney Ilia Usharovich] wrote. […]

Weiss, husband of former state Rep. Toni Berrios and son-in-law of former Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios, is due to be sentenced by Seeger on Oct. 11.

Seeger is the same judge who last year handed a nearly five-year sentence to [Rep. Luis Arroyo], calling him a “dirty politician who was on the take.” Ahead of that hearing, Arroyo’s defense attorneys argued that sending him to prison would be “no more effective than draining Lake Michigan with a spoon” because it wouldn’t end Chicago corruption.

An October 2020 indictment against Arroyo and Weiss alleged that Arroyo served as Weiss’ bought-and-paid-for member of the Illinois House of Representatives. In exchange for $32,500 in bribes from Weiss, Arroyo agreed to vote for and promote sweepstakes legislation in Springfield.

* More from the memo

The Defendant’s unlawful actions were designed to protect his business, the legitimate income that provides for his family, and to institute clear regulation of the sweepstakes industry. Part of this regulation required the payment of a “One Cent” tax on all sweepstakes transactions in The State of Illinois. This tax would have benefited the Public with additional tax revenue. The Defendant would have also suffered a determinant in that his business, which was already legal, would be subject to additional taxation and state regulation. There was no actual theft of federal funds, improper transfer of federal funds, and there was no financial loss to the United States or the State of Illinois. […]

As to Defendant, Specific deterrence is not a strong factor. This is because Louis Arroyo and Terry Link are unlikely to hold office again. Also, on 2/1/2023, Rep. Robert “Bob” Rita, who testified at trial, introduced HB1603 which would make Defendant’s sweepstake business illegal. On 2/7/2023 SB1504 was introduce by Sen. Bill Cunningham which would also make Defendant’s sweepstake business illegal. Finally, introduced on 2/17/2023, by Rep. Cyril Nichols, was HB3850 which would also make Defendant’s sweepstakes business illegal. Hence, it is very unlikely Defendant will remain in business or be able to bribe his way back into business ever again. [Emphasis added.]


* You may recall that Weiss’ attorney Ilia Usharovich had a bizarre dustup with Judge Seeger, who scolded Usharovich about his disrespectful behavior in court. And then this happened

The judge told Weiss’ defense team to take five minutes to cool down. But it didn’t help. Usharovich tried to explain the reasoning behind their appeal, but Seeger wound up telling him “you may not speak again without permission.”

That led to multiple episodes in which Usharovich raised one hand, or both, to signal that he wanted to speak, including once to use the bathroom.

Late in the hearing, Usharovich claimed he’d thrown up into a cup and complained that he’d been restrained unlawfully in the courtroom. He told the judge “here’s my vomit in a cup.”

When Seeger questioned whether Usharovich had really thrown up, Usharovich insisted to the judge, “Look at the cup!”

Seeger told him that “the transcript will never fully convey the contemptuous air that I’m getting from you, and I don’t like it.”

[Rich Miller contributed to this post.]


  1. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 10:40 am:

    Look, your honor, I’ll be eating egg noodles and ketchup for the rest of my life. Sending me to prison would just be cruel.

  2. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 10:55 am:

    ===[Rich Miller contributed to this post.]===


    Is the thought… “accidental altruism”… and “I suffered enough”?

    Kids under 10 will say… this is a loser and adults know immediately nothing was learned, let alone does the child see punishment should exist.


  3. - Rudy’s teeth - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 11:00 am:

    Political theater at its best at the Dirksen Federal Building. The antics by attorneys and defendants rival any Broadway theater production.

    From the Operation Greylord trial, Family Secrets, Betty Loren-Maltese, Blago’s time in the spotlight, the recent Tim Mapes debacle, and next year Michael Madigan will be up to bat.

    Apologies to all who have not been mentioned in this laundry list of criminal defendants.

  4. - ChicagoBars - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 11:02 am:

    Is that last sentence part of an acceptance of responsibility ahead of sentencing in order to ask for a downward sentence departure?

    Or just an accident the Feds can use to hammer him with during any pending appeals?

  5. - cermak_rd - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 11:13 am:

    This idea of look you can’t punish me harshly, it won’t change anything, there will still be corruption, is weird. It’s like a robber claiming, why punish me? Other robbers will just take up where I left off.
    Although I do like unable to bribe himself back into a business. But I would not underestimate the defendant.

  6. - Donnie Elgin - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 11:13 am:

    Once you are found guilty the truth comes out…

    Arroyo’s defense attorneys argued that sending him to prison would be “no more effective than draining Lake Michigan with a spoon” because it wouldn’t end Chicago corruption.

  7. - Former ILSIP - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 11:16 am:

    Bold defense indeed. It reminds me of:

    “But I’m an orphan, your Honor. Please be lenient”

    “You’re an orphan because you murdered your parents.”

  8. - Roman - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 11:18 am:

    I’m stretching a bit here, but isn’t this akin to a defense attorney for a murderer asking for a shorter sentence because his client is no longer a danger to the person he killed?

  9. - Just a citizen - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 11:18 am:

    Reasoning like this is what got Weiss into trouble in the first place.

  10. - vern - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 11:21 am:

    Among other things, the grammar in this filing is atrocious. Random capitalizations, improperly conjugated verbs, it’s a mess. How did a guy like Weiss end up with such a sloppy lawyer?

  11. - JoanP - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 11:23 am:

    = claiming his corruption would have eventually benefited the state =

    We now have a new definition of “chutzpah”.

  12. - NotRich - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 11:24 am:

    Vern: sloppy gets sloppy

  13. - Stuck in Celliniland - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 11:27 am:

    = claiming his corruption would have eventually benefited the state =

    Kind of sounds like something Blago would have also said. Except he would claim that he wasn’t corrupt.

  14. - Rudy’s teeth - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 11:29 am:

    To Vern’s comment on “improperly conjugated verbs”…perhaps English is not Mr. Usharovich’s first language.

  15. - Regular democrat - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 11:39 am:

    That attorney seemed to be unprepared for federal court and that is putting it mildly. You grab a pro cut a deal move on . I dont believe this judge will be lenient at all. Best of luck to

  16. - vern - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 11:40 am:

    === not Mr. Usharovich’s first language ===

    Perhaps, but practicing law is a linguistically precise profession. Words are what laws are made of. How many cases have come down to the difference between “may” and “shall?”

  17. - Langhorne - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 12:03 pm:

    Comedy gold. It would seem preposterous if you wrote it. But it is real life.

    I hope the late night shows come across it.

  18. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 12:04 pm:

    ===the truth comes out…===

    Convicts that show they are contrite and respect to verdicts do so for leniency or to show the conviction shouldn’t be seen in its harshest light.

    Those combative or unwilling to seem or appear shameful face the possibility of longer sentences.

    Now, “everybody does it” isn’t all that great, but that might be better than this silly attempt found in Rich’s post.

  19. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 12:15 pm:

    ==Hence, it is very unlikely Defendant will remain in business or be able to bribe his way back into business ever again.==

    I’m not so sure about that. Once the guy has a reputation for handing out bribes, it becomes expected. Maybe after 20 years, people will forget and it will no longer be an expectation; so, a 20 year sentence would be a gift to the convicted.

  20. - Skeptic - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 12:17 pm:

    “Kind of sounds like something Blago would have also said.” I don’t know about Blago, but TFG tried to say a similar thing in his motion for summary judgement, “So what if there was fraud, I paid it all back with interest! No harm, no foul, ammirite?”

  21. - Steve - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 12:23 pm:

    As Harvard economist Joseph Schumpeter stated: taxes aren’t voluntary club dues.

  22. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 12:43 pm:

    ===Once the guy has a reputation…===


    Ald. Abrosio Medrano

    I mean… exception proves the rule.

  23. - thisjustinagain - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 1:01 pm:

    That’s a new defense: “I was corrupt to make sure the State got tax money.” I also believe it will fail to persuade the judge.

  24. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 1:10 pm:


    “Usharovich and Sorosky in April invoked the U.S. Constitution’s “Speech or Debate Clause,” which protects members of Congress from interference by other branches of the federal government, in an attempt to have the case thrown out. Seeger denied it and pointed out the clause applies not to the Illinois General Assembly but to Congress — and that Weiss was not a member of either body.”

    It’s a bold move Cotton, let’s see if it pays off

  25. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 1:11 pm:

    This lawyer may actually be lucky that Seeger is new to the bench. I cannot imagine a long time federal judge not ordering some time in custody for contempt.

  26. - Dotnonymous x - Thursday, Sep 28, 23 @ 2:30 pm:

    The ol’ Poke the Tiger…strategy…works every time…no wait…I meant never.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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