An FBI informant who secretly recorded Illinois House Speaker
Michael Madigan and former Chicago Ald. Danny Solis, which then allowed federal
prosecutors to charge Ald. Ed Burke, has been charged with wire fraud.
See Y. Wong was charged March 11. Depending on whether his arraignment is
delayed along with other federal hearings by the COVID-19 outbreak, he is
expected to plead guilty when arraigned March 24.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports Wong lied to buyers and Cathay Bank at the Canal
Crossing development in Chicago’s Chinatown. The bank gave $13.7 million to
Emerald Homes, which was owned by Wong. His scheme cost the bank $1.8 million
and buyers of condominiums in the development $1 million.
Wong’s scheme took place in 2010, but it did not become public until charges
were filed March 11. He in 2014 was making recordings for federal investigators
in the hope that one day a judge would go easy on him when his crimes were
The Sun-Times first identified Wong as an informant in January 2019. The news
organization reported he had secretly recorded Solis and Madigan in 2014 after
the former alderman got him a visit with Madigan at the law office of Madigan
and Getzendanner about a development project. The recording revealed Solis would
take official action in his position as alderman to privately benefit Madigan,
according to a 120-page federal affidavit. Madigan has denied wrongdoing.
Wong’s recordings cornered Solis and allowed federal investigators to convince
him to record Burke, which eventually lead to Burke’s arrest.
Burke pleaded not guilty last June to 14 corruption charges. Counts include
extortion and using his city connections and powers to steer business to his law
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Ongoing corruption probes have embroiled
governments from township halls up to the Statehouse. The Illinois
Policy Institute supports the following anti-corruption reform
measures, many of which were recommended in a 2009 state report
released following the indictment of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich:
Adopting revolving door restrictions on state
lawmakers becoming lobbyists.
Empowering the Illinois legislative inspector
general to investigate lawmaker corruption. As is, this muzzled
watchdog office must seek approval from a panel of state
lawmakers before opening investigations, issuing subpoenas and
even publishing summary reports.
Mandating state lawmakers recuse themselves
from votes in which they have a conflict of interest. There is
no current state law or even parliamentary rule requiring
Illinois lawmakers to disclose a conflict of interest or to
excuse themselves from voting on issues where they have personal
or private financial interests.
Reforming the Illinois House rules, which grant
more concentrated power to the House speaker than any other
legislative rules in the country.
Using objective scoring criteria for capital
projects, akin to Virginia’s Smart Scale model. This ensures
infrastructure dollars are directed by need rather than clout.
Passing a bipartisan constitutional amendment
to end politically drawn legislative maps in Illinois.
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