The federal bribery case against a henchman of former House Speaker Michael Madigan and three others has been rescheduled for March due to logistics issues with another high-profile case against singer R. Kelly.
The “ComEd Four” case, as it’s known, was scheduled to begin in September, but U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber scuttled that plan last month when he learned the large ceremonial courtroom would still be occupied with Kelly. trial, which begins on August 15.
The courtroom on the 25th floor of the Dirksen US Courthouse has been in high demand during the pandemic and is the only space that can accommodate a multi-defendant jury trial given COVID-19 protocols. 19 that are still in force.
During a brief status hearing Thursday, Leinenweber rescheduled the trial for March 6. Since the trial is expected to last up to two months, Leinenweber said he would order a special panel of potential jurors who had said in advance that they could sit through that time.
Charged in the November 2020 indictment were Michael McClain, a former state legislator and lobbyist who was part of Madigan’s inner circle; Anne Pramaggiore, former CEO of ComEd; John Hooker, longtime ComEd lobbyist; and Jay Doherty, a utility company consultant and former head of the City Club of Chicago.
The 50-page indictment alleged that beginning in 2011, McClain and the other defendants “arranged for various associates” of Madigan, including his political allies and campaign workers, “to obtain jobs, contracts and monetary payments” from ComEd, even in cases where it did little or no actual work.
McClain and the other defendants also conspired to have ComEd hire a law firm and attorney favored by Madigan, previously identified in public testimony as Victor Reyes de Reyes Kurson, and to accept into ComEd’s summer internship program a a number of students who lived in Madigan District 13. Ward, according to the charges.
Pramaggiore and McClain also allegedly arranged for Juan Ochoa, the former head of the Chicago Metropolitan Exposition and Docks Authority, to be appointed to ComEd’s board of directors at the request of Madigan and McClain, according to the indictment.
All four defendants have pleaded not guilty.
Madigan and McClain were indicted in March on separate racketeering charges that include the alleged ComEd scheme. Both Madigan and McClain have denied the allegations and are awaiting trial.