A defense attorney in the case of the four former Commonwealth Edison officials convicted of working together to bribe former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan believes federal prosecutors are trying to put them behind bars for life.
At a hearing Wednesday morning, lawyers for the so-called “ComEd Four” argued that scheduled January sentencing dates should be pushed back a month to allow their defense teams to better prepare sentencing briefings.
During the hearing, Patrick Cotter — who represents Madigan’s longtime confidante, Michael McClain — said prosecutors should seek prison sentences that would keep the four in prison for the rest of their lives.
“The government will apparently suggest that the guidelines in this case are life. Life,” he said. “And we’re asking for what we believe to be adequate time – a couple more weeks – to respond, not only to the (pre-sentence reports), but to what the government files when it asks to put our clients in prison for life.”
McClain, along with former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, retired ComEd executive John Hooker and former City Club of Chicago president and former ComEd consultant Jay Doherty were convicted in May of conspiracy, bribery and forgery intentional of the company’s accounting books.
Each of the defendants is in their 60s or 70s. They face up to five years in prison for each conviction for criminal conspiracy, up to 10 years for each conviction for corruption and up to 20 years for each conviction for forgery of documents.
Former City Club of Chicago president and former ComEd consultant Jay Doherty, retired ComEd executive John Hooker, former ComEd lobbyist Mike McClain, and former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore were found guilty. (File photo)
Each of the four were supposed to be sentenced on different dates in January 2024, but they had tried to push those dates back to February.
But prosecutors argued that defense teams have been “well aware of the issues in dispute” in the six months since the trial concluded and have enough time to prepare ahead of the currently scheduled sentencing dates.
“The government and the public have a strong interest in having a definitive conclusion and bringing this criminal case to a close,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu said in the government’s response. “Settling for unnecessary delay requests like this contributes to a general feeling that the wheels of justice are not moving quickly enough.”
Judge Harry Leinenweber ultimately rejected the defense’s request on Wednesday.
“The jury returned a verdict six months ago or so and there was a lot of time between the verdict and the sentencing dates, which are still … two months apart, for some of them,” Leinenweber said . “So it seems to me that there is sufficient time to prepare for the sentencing without moving the dates.”
McClain will be first to be sentenced on January 11, 2024. Pramaggiore will be sentenced on January 16, followed by Hooker on January 25. Doherty will then be sentenced on January 30.
McClain will stand trial next year along with Madigan in the former speaker’s racketeering and bribery case.
Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson | [email protected] | (773) 509-5431