James T. Ingram

James T. Ingram

We find former Illinois House Speaker and “Godfather of Illinois politics” Michael Madigan under indictment on federal racketeering and bribery charges as the 50th anniversary of the cinematic classic is being celebrated.

After a reign of nearly 40 years, Madigan’s epic fall from grace reads like a storyline from “The Godfather,” “Goodfellas,” or “American Gangster.” It is replete with criminal enterprises, “rats,” “buffers,” and “consiglieres.” The only thing missing someone getting “whacked.”

The 22-count federal grand jury indictment accuses Madigan of leading a criminal enterprise, referred to as the “Madigan Enterprise,” for nearly a decade. Its alleged purpose was to enhance the political power and financial well-being of Madigan, who is referred to as “Public Official A” in the 106-page indictment.

More specifically Madigan, 79, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, using interstate facilities in aid of bribery, wire fraud and attempted extortion.

It describes the “Madigan Enterprise” as generating income for Speaker Madigan, his political allies, and associates by soliciting benefits through shakedowns of businesses and other private parties.

Much of this was done, according to the indictment, by co-defendant, personal friend, and “buffer” Michael F. McClain. He allegedly conducted illegal activities at the behest of Madigan. McClain is charged with four counts of racketeering conspiracy and individual counts of using interstate facilities in the aid of bribery and wire fraud.

Some of McClain’s alleged illegal activities include arranging monetary payments from various businesses, including utility company Commonwealth Edison, to Madigan associates for loyalty to Madigan.

Little to no legitimate work was allegedly expected in return. This is commonly referred to as “ghost jobs.”

Given Madigan’s reported aversion to conducting business by phone he, ironically, entered a plea of “not guilty” through his attorney Gil Soffer during a brief phone hearing. McClain did the same through his attorney Patrick Cotter.

However, the list of “rats,” (those cooperating with investigators,) is extensive and may complicate things for Madigan and McClain. They include former Chicago Alderman Daniel Solis, who secretly recorded several personal conversations with Madigan, as well as former ComEd Vice President Fidel Marquez, who has already entered a guilty plea for his role.

Given these potential revelations and testimony, then Bada-Bing, Bada-Boom! Madigan and “The Enterprise” may be forced to take “an offer that they can’t refuse” by the United States government. 

We shall see. But the chances of the former speaker beating prison time are slim and none. Slim may have already left town.

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