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Federal prosecutors charge Mike McClain, other key individuals in ComEd bribery scheme

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Chicago - WBEZ Mike McClain - 01102020

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Federal prosecutors issued charges against several former executives and lobbyists for Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) Wednesday.

The charges came four months after the utility signed a deferred prosecution agreement for information about a bribery scheme in the Illinois statehouse.

Mike McClain

Mike McClain, a former Quincy lawmaker, lobbyist, and close confidant of House Speaker Mike Madigan, is the first person noted in the court document filed Wednesday.

Reports have long connected McClain to the ComEd investigation.

According to a November 2019 report by the Chicago Tribune, McClain was wiretapped by federal agents as part of the ComEd probe.

The Tribune had also reported in July of 2019 that the FBI had raided McClain's Quincy home in mid-May of last year.

The newspaper reported that the raid took place around the same time that the FBI executed search warrants at the homes of Chicago Alderman Michael Zalewski and political operative Kevin Quinn, both of whom were associates of Madigan.

Attorney Patrick J. Cotter issued the following statement on behalf of Mike McClain on Wednesday.

During his career of more than 50 years, Mike McClain has served the people of the State of Illinois both as a public servant and an advocate. He is an honest and honorable man – as everyone who has worked with him well knows.

The charges filed today by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois are the result of a misguided investigation and misapplication of the law, driven by an obvious desire to find some way to criminally implicate a current elected official, who happens to be Mike McClain’s longtime friend.

In its zeal to find any evidence of criminal misconduct by that official, the Government is attempting to rewrite the law on bribery and criminalize long-recognized legitimate, common, and normal lobbying activity into some new form of crime. The goal of these meritless charges is clear: to apply maximum pressure on Mike McClain, and others, to help the Government in its efforts against his friend. But Mike McClain cannot agree to allegations that are untrue, even to escape the crippling weight of the Government’s attacks.

Mike McClain absolutely denies that he has committed any crime, and he will fight these charges as long as it takes, and as long as his age and health allow, to restore his well-earned honest and honorable reputation.

Attorney Patrick J. Cotter

Others named

The indictment also names former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, former executive John Hooker, and lobbyist Jay Doherty.

Each of the individuals is charged with bribery conspiracy, bribery, and willfully falsifying ComEd and Exelon books, records, and accounts.

Mike Madigan

Prosecutors haven't charged Madigan and he continues to deny any wrongdoing.

In July, ComEd admitted to arranging jobs, subcontracting work, and monetary payments related to those jobs.

In exchange, ComEd admitted that Madigan's associates ensured lawmakers would pass legislation favorable to ComEd.

The new indictment states the associates allegedly tried to have ComEd hire one of Madigan's favored law firms.

Prosecutors allege the associates also wanted the utility group to accept a number of students from Chicago's 13th Ward into an internship program.

Arraignment dates for the defendants haven't been announced at this time.

Former ComEd executive Fidel Marquez previously pleaded guilty to his involvement in the bribery scheme.

Meanwhile, the legislative investigation into Madigan's involvement hit a roadblock. Members have only convened twice in Springfield, and Republicans feel Chairman Emanuel "Chris" Welch is shielding the Speaker.

Welch says the GOP members continue to treat the process as a political ploy.

Other McClain investigation

McClain is also at the center of an investigation into his involvement of an alleged rape cover-up, after an email he wrote surfaced during the ComEd investigation earlier this year.

In the email, McClain asked for leniency in regards to discipline for Quincy resident Forrest Ashby who was working at a Department of Human Services facility for inmates in Rushville, Illinois.

McClain wrote that Ashby, "...is a good compliance person, as I told you... He has kept his mouth shut on Jones' ghost workers, the rape in Champaign and other items. He is loyal to the administration."

The email was between McClain and then-Governor Quinn's former Legislative Affairs Liasion, Gary Hannig.

The Chief Legal Counsel from the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board said that Forrest Ashby's contract was suspended after reports surfaced that Ashby helped cover up a rape and kept quiet about ghost jobs in the state.

Gov. Pritzker addressed the rape cover-up allegations in January saying that a full investigation was needed.

"We need to do an investigation and find out what the real facts are and then we have to hold those accountable who are responsible for perpetrating either the crime, the cover up or the threats associated in that email."

Gov. J.B. Pritzker - (D) Illinois

Read the indictment below:

Read the response on behalf of Mike McClain below:

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Mike Miletich

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