Michael Madigan’s lawyer says ‘not guilty’ for client, who skips arraignment

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Former Speaker of the House Michael Madigan in 2021

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

In the eight months since his blockbuster indictment in March, a few scribbled signatures have been the only public sign that former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is engaged in the racketeering conspiracy case leveled against him.

Madigan did not speak during his original arraignment, held by telephone, earlier this year. His attorney did the talking then and entered a plea of not guilty. But Tuesday, Madigan faced arraignment all over again on last month’s superseding indictment that added a conspiracy charge involving AT&T Illinois.

This time, Madigan did not participate at all. 

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole last week gave Madigan permission to skip the arraignment, also held by telephone, after Madigan signed a waiver that said he pleaded not guilty “to each and every charge.” 

The signature of former Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan on his waiver of arraignment.

U.S. District Court records

Madigan also signed bond paperwork in March.

Cole also excused Madigan’s longtime confidant, Michael McClain, who is charged in the indictment and also signed a waiver that said he pleaded not guilty.

Lawyers for Madigan and McClain formally entered the not-guilty pleas for their clients during Tuesday’s hearing, which lasted just a few minutes. Earlier, they invoked a federal rule that allows defendants to waive their arraignment if a judge agrees to it. That rule apparently failed to spare generations of other indicted politicians from the walk-of-shame past news cameras in the lobby of Chicago’s Dirksen Federal Courthouse.

Madigan’s original indictment alleged that he and McClain sought jobs, contracts and money for Madigan’s associates from ComEd between 2011 and 2019, and that Madigan took official action to help ComEd pass favorable legislation.

ComEd was charged separately in 2020, struck a deal with the feds and agreed to pay a $200 million fine. McClain and three others with ties to ComEd face charges in yet another case set to go to trial on March 6.

Madigan’s indictment also alleged schemes involving former City Council member Danny Solis (25th), who cooperated with prosecutors after being confronted with evidence of his own wrongdoing. Though Solis has been charged with bribery, he also struck a deal that will likely help him avoid a conviction.

The superseding indictment against Madigan, filed Oct. 12, alleges that Madigan and McClain worked with then-AT&T Illinois President Paul La Schiazza to have $22,500 paid to former state Rep. Edward Acevedo in an attempt to influence Madigan as crucial legislation was considered in Springfield.

Like ComEd, AT&T Illinois struck a deal with the feds and agreed to pay a $23 million fine. La Schiazza faces a separate, five-count conspiracy indictment and has pleaded not guilty. 

Acevedo has not been charged in the scheme. He pleaded guilty to tax evasion in late 2021 and was sentenced in March to six months behind bars. He is serving that sentence in a medium-security facility in North Carolina, records show. 

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November 1, 2022 at 10:52AM

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