ComEd to pay $200M over bribery, Illinois speaker implicated

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CHICAGO (AP) – Electric utility ComEd has agreed to pay $200 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation into a long-running bribery scheme that implicates Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, federal prosecutors announced Friday.

The company has admitted that it arranged jobs, subcontracted work and monetary payments related to those jobs “for various associates of a high-level elected official for the state of Illinois,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a news release.

That elected official is identified as “Public Official A” in the release. A deferred prosecution agreement for ComEd filed in federal court states that “Public Official A” is the Illinois House Speaker, but Madigan – the the longest-serving state House speaker in modern American history – is not mentioned by name.

Madigan’s spokesman, Steve Brown, couldn’t be reached for comment Friday and didn’t immediately respond to a voice message.

The U.S. Attorney’s office scheduled a Friday afternoon news conference “to announce developments in a public corruption investigation.”

“Public Official A controlled what measures were called for a vote in the Illinois House of Representatives and exerted substantial influence over fellow lawmakers concerning legislation affecting ComEd,” the news release states.

Prosecutors said that the alleged bribery scheme was orchestrated “to influence and reward the official’s efforts to assist ComEd with respect to legislation concerning ComEd and its business.”

The Chicago Tribune had reported in December that Madigan has been the subject of inquiries in the federal corruption investigation involving ComEd, which is the largest electric utility in Illinois, that has already entangled several top Illinois Democrats.

More than half a dozen Illinois Democrats – including some of them former Madigan confidants and allies – have been charged with crimes or had agents raid their offices and homes.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said it filed a one-count criminal information on Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago charging ComEd with bribery.

A deferred prosecution agreement that’s subject to approval by the U.S. District Court requires ComEd to pay a $200 million fine. A court date for the approval hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Under that agreement, the government will defer prosecution on the charge for three years and then seek to dismiss it if the utility “abides by certain conditions, including continuing to cooperate with ongoing investigations of individuals or other entities related to the conduct described in the bribery charge,” according to the release.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said that ComEd “has provided substantial cooperation with the federal investigations” and under the terms of its agreement, “the company will continue to provide such cooperation until all investigations and prosecutions arising out of the charged conduct are concluded.”

FILE – In this May 23, 2020 file photo, Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, talks on his cellphone from his desk during an extended session of the Illinois House of Representatives at the Bank of Springfield Center, in Springfield, Ill. ComEd has agreed to pay $200 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation into a long-running bribery scheme that implicates Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, the U.S. Attorney’s office announced Friday July 17, 2020. (Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP, Pool, File)
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