Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan did not say a word during his first federal racketeering indictment in March.
This time Madigan wasn’t even in touch.
During a cursory phone hearing Tuesday, the former Democratic leader’s attorney entered a not guilty plea on his behalf in a superseding charge, adding conspiracy charges involving AT&T Illinois.
Madigan was not required to speak by phone because his attorneys cited a rarely used procedural rule that allows criminal defendants to waive their right to be present at trial under certain circumstances.
His co-defendant, Michael McClain, was also waived and his attorney also pleaded not guilty.
The hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole lasted less than three minutes, most of which was occupied by attorneys who identified themselves on the line. Cole scheduled a status hearing for the judge, U.S. District Judge Robert Blakey, for Nov. 17.
Since the US Attorney’s Office first charged Madigan with racketeering eight months ago, the former Democratic representative, who is out on bail, hasn’t spoken a word in court, by phone or otherwise, and hasn’t even set foot in Dirksen’s U.S. courthouse yet.
But that could change soon. The building’s long-standing COVID-19 protocols are set to be lifted in December, and many judges are expected to begin requiring litigants — especially defendants — to appear in person rather than by phone.
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The supersedes the indictment announced on October 14 accused Madigan and McClain, his longtime confidant, of conspiring with AT&T Illinois executives and lobbyists to funnel payments to a Madigan employee in exchange for the speaker’s help in passing controversial legislation to end landline service for the company’s 1.2 million customers.
The phone giant agreed to pay a $23 million fine as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with prosecutors that saw charges against the company dropped after two years.
Also indicted as part of the investigation was Paul La Schiazza, the former president of AT&T Illinois, who was accused of arranging and approving the payments. He did not plead guilty.
Madigan, 80, and McClain, 75, were indicted in March on an initial 22-count indictment alleging conspiracy to engage in a series of bribery and racketeering schemes from 2011 to 2019 that allegedly used Madigan’s elected office and political power for personal gain. goals.
The indictment also accused Madigan of illegally providing business to his private property tax law firm while discussing the redevelopment of a public parcel of land in Chinatown.
Both Madigan and McClain have denied wrongdoing. Their lawyers accused prosecutors of trying to criminalize legitimate political actions, such as job recommendations, in a bid to oust the once-powerful speaker.