Defense attorneys attempt to flip script in ComEd bribery trial, viewing corruption charges as ‘classic, honest and legitimate lobbying’


A former top attorney at ComEd said Wednesday that not ComEd executive Anne Pramaggiore, but a law firm with political ties to Michael Madigan when ComEd tried to pass a key bill in Springfield in 2011 I have confirmed that I have made the decision to hire

So, given that Pramaggiore is currently on trial for alleged bribery conspiracy over Madigan, her defense attorney sarcastically asked Thomas O’Neill if he had gone to Pramaggiore, saying, “I am the head. and just bribed Mike Madigan.”

O’Neill confirmed otherwise.

Still, the episode punctuated the day when defense attorneys tried to flip the script on what they characterized as the federal government’s “dark theory”. It is currently on trial.

The four tried to bribe Madigan by arranging jobs, contracts, and money for Madigan’s allies to benefit ComEd when Madigan was a powerful House Speaker in Illinois. has been accused of

The indictment outlines four alleged schemes. O’Neill served as key witnesses for two of them, but was primarily instrumental in hiring and contract renewals for Reyes Carson Law Firm, in which political operative Victor Reyes was a partner. O’Neill also testified about Madigan’s appointment of former McPier boss Juan Ochoa to her ComEd board of directors.

The trial with Pramaggiore has Madigan’s aide Michael McClain, former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker and former City Club president Jay Doherty on trial.

When O’Neill took the testimony Tuesday, prosecutors attempted to link Reyes Carson’s contract to legislation that was subsequently passed, significantly improving ComEd’s financial position.

But defense attorneys didn’t get a chance to cross-examine O’Neill until Wednesday. We tried to offer a different perspective that revolves around the campaign, and personal connections.

Also, when Doherty’s defense attorney, Gabriel Sansonetti, was asked whether he believed O’Neill’s efforts to hire Reyes Carson were “legislative-related,” O’Neill replied to the jury, “No, that’s right.” It wasn’t,” he said.

The laws at issue were the Energy Infrastructure and Modernization Act (EIMA), passed in 2011, and the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), passed in 2016.

Pramaggiore’s attorney, Scott Lassar, spent much of the cross-examination reviewing the major lobbying efforts ComEd launched to pass the bill when faced with possible bankruptcy.

O’Neill agreed with Lassar that there is “no guarantee” that EIMA will pass in 2011. He denied that ComEd’s legislative strategy revolved around recruiting people nominated by Madigan and said he believed EIMA’s message.

O’Neill and another ComEd executive testified that the legislation significantly improved ComEd’s service to its customers.

The contract with Reyes Kurson was unique in that it guaranteed the company 850 hours of work per year. O’Neill tried to lower his guarantee around 2016. He said he eventually did so despite alleged pressure from Pramaggiore and McClain during FEJA negotiations. .

The deal was originally signed in 2011, one day before the Illinois legislature overruled the government’s veto at the time. Pat Quinn passes his EIMA. But O’Neill said he doesn’t believe the bill is in jeopardy.

Legislative leaders have promised to nullify Quinn, he said.

Finally, O’Neill said Reyes Carson was only paid for work done.

Previously, prosecutors asked O’Neill about his suspicion of trying to add Ochoa to the ComEd board at Madigan’s request. O’Neill testified that Pramaggiore received Ochoa’s resume from Madigan’s office in November 2017. Did. And O’Neill, who said he knew “nothing” about Ochoa, said he wanted to do “due diligence” and run a background check on him.

“I had some concerns about having someone from the speaker’s staff join the board, as I felt they would be fairly close to the speakers who would be joining the ComEd board.” and.

A background check found that Ochoa stopped making mortgage payments on the Berwyn estate, which later faced foreclosure. that he sued when he was running for President Berwyn; And when he was appointed by the former governor, he received “bad press” for his lack of experience. Rod Blagojevich runs the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority. His appointment was seen as a reward for being able to raise money for Blagojevich and as a way to connect with Hispanic voters.

On cross-examination, however, Lasser asked O’Neill if Ochoa was Madigan’s “mate.” “He was with ‘Chui’ Garcia and Luis Gutierrez, wasn’t he?” LaSalle asked.

O’Neill, who eventually gave the green light to the appointment, said he knew Ochoa and Madigan had “fallen off” and was unaware of his relationship with Garcia, who now serves in Congress, “at the time.” Gutierrez, who served in the House of Representatives when the alleged plot began.

“Didn’t you say, ‘I can’t hire Ochoa because it would be a bribe for Chairman Madigan’?” LaSalle asked.

O’Neill replied, “I didn’t.”


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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