Led by the U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, local prosecutors are stepping up their investigations of public corruption, trying to ferret out kickbacks, bribes, and fraud inside the state’s political world. All of the resulting investigations, indictments, and convictions have been embarrassing, even for a public with such a jaded view of politics. But busting pols has led to a boom for white-collar criminal defense attorneys. Here’s a look at some who are repping political insiders either indicted or under investigation.
Former Illinois governor; indicted on federal corruption charges.
SAM ADAM JR. & SAM ADAM SR.
Notable case: Defended R. Kelly, the three-time Grammy winner, in his June 2008 child pornography trial. Jurors decided there was not enough evidence to convict Kelly.
Notable case: Defended Deborah Mell, Rod Blagojevich’s sister-in-law, in 2004 after she was arrested for misdemeanor battery of a Chicago police officer during a pro-gay marriage rally outside of the Cook County clerk’s office. A judge ruled that Mell did not intentionally injure the officer.
Notable case: Part of the legal team that unsuccessfully defended former governor George Ryan. In April 2006, a federal jury found Ryan guilty on all 18 counts of public corruption charges.
Chairman of his brother’s campaign fund; indicted for wire fraud
Notable case: Unsuccessfully challenged the conviction of the former Cook County judge Adam Stillo Sr., who was found guilty of conspiring to commit extortion for taking bribes to “fix” cases during the “Operation Greylord” scandal of the 1980s.
Former Blago chief of staff; indicted for wire fraud
TERRY A. EKL
Notable case: One of the attorneys involved in the so-called DuPage 7 trial, in which DuPage County prosecutors charged seven police officers and prosecutors with conspiring to frame Rolando Cruz in the 1983 slaying of ten-year old Jeanine Nicarico. The jury acquitted the defendants.
U.S. Senator; investigated for alleged perjury
Burris turned to his longtime friend and former law partner after Sangamon County prosecutors began looking into whether Burris lied to the House committee examining his Senate appointment. Burris wasn’t charged with perjury, but the Senate Ethics Committee is still looking into the circumstances surrounding his appointment.
JESSE JACKSON JR.
U.S. Representative; under investigation in connection with the Blago Senate-seat scandal
JAMES MONTGOMERY SR.
Notable case: A partner of the late Johnnie Cochran Jr., of O.J. fame, Montgomery mostly handles wrongful death cases, including representing 7 of the 21 victims of the E2 nightclub tragedy.
29th Ward alderman; indicted on bribery charges.
Notable case: Defended Kristopher Davis, a relative of the former Chicago Bears sackman Otis Wilson, on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine as part of a downstate drug ring. Davis pleaded guilty and faced life in prison, but Beaumont convinced the judge to sentence him to 19 years and 7 months.
Former Blago fundraiser; indicted for racketeering, fraud, and extortion
Notable case: Defended former alderman Edward “Fast Eddie” Vrdolyak, who pleaded guilty to fraud charges surrounding a crooked real-estate deal. The real win here was Vrdolyak’s sentence, essentially a wrist-slap: five years of probation, a $50,000 fine, and community service.
Photography: (Rob Blagojevich) UPI Photo/Brian Kersey, (all others) Chicago Tribune Photos by (Rod Blagojevich) Charles Osgood, (Burris) Dianne Brogan, (Carothers) José M. Osorio, (Harris) Michael Tercha, (Jackson) Chuck Berman, (Kelly) Bob Fila