Federal prosecutors agreed to tell the former Chicago Ald’s attorneys. Edward M. Burke by the end of next month if they call one of the city government’s most notorious whistleblowers, the former Ald, to the stand. Danny Solis.
Attorneys for Burke and his two co-defendants were hoping to get that answer in less than two weeks — by Aug. 1 — to help them prepare for their fast-approaching trial in November.
But during a brief court hearing on Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Streicker explained that prosecutors had offered to make that disclosure by Aug. 31. U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall called it a “very generous” offer that will give defense attorneys “more than enough time” to prepare.
Solis’ public testimony more than four years after being declared a government aide could prove to be among the most watched in Dirksen’s federal court in years, if it were to happen. Solis covertly taped Burke, former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and others, helping the feds build successful indictments against powerful politicians.
But whether Solis will take sides in Burke’s trial remains to be seen. Burke’s attorney, Chris Gair, explained to Kendall that it is a “huge and imposing task to prepare for a cross examination” of someone who has been so “prolific in both getting himself registered before he cooperates and registering people after he has started cooperating.”
A 2016 FBI affidavit first obtained by the Sun-Times stated that Solis received “a steady stream of personal benefits” from people for whom he had taken or offered official action. Benefits allegedly included Viagra, prostitution services, the use of a multimillion-dollar farm, and campaign contributions.
Solis is now charged with bribery, but the feds are expected to seek that charge dismissed if he stands by his end of a deferred charging settlement that is expected to close in April 2025.
Burke is accused of using his city council seat to steer business for his private law firm amid schemes involving the Old Post Office, a Burger King on 41st Street and Pulaski Road, and a redevelopment project on the Northwest Side. His trial will begin on November 6.