Ed Burke trial: Defense gets spotlight in opening statements Friday

CHICAGO — Opening statements continue Friday in the Ed Burke federal corruption trial.

On Thursday, prosecutors opened the trial by laying out what they called a “pattern of corruption.”

Defense attorneys began mounting a case that will paint a completely different picture of the once powerful alderman.

Burke’s defense attorney Chris Gair began his opening statement Thursday evening describing Burke as an “old school, hard working” public servant whose only goal was to help voters and businesses thrive.

Prosecutors described him as an “extortionist” who is accused of “shaking down” business owners and institutions by withholding permits and blocking other actions from his position as finance committee chairman until they paid his law firm.

Burke is facing 14 federal charges including racketeering, bribery and extortion. He’s being tried along with his former chief of staff Peter Andrews and Portage Park developer Charles Cui.

Lawyers for Andrews and Cui will deliver their opening statements Friday.

The trial is scheduled to take about six weeks and all three co-defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Chicago News