ComEd Four trial: Defense attorneys try to dismantle star witness Fidel Marquez’s testimony

CHICAGO (WLS) — All this week, the prosecution in the trial of the “ComEd Four” has been working to prove that the utility company was engaged in a bribery scheme at the highest levels of Illinois government.

RELATED | Former ComEd executive and prosecution’s star witness Fidel Marquez testifies

Cross-examination of Fidel Marquez continued Thursday, with each of the four defendant’s attorneys having to take their turn to question the government’s star witness.

He is a witness the defense seeks to portray as one who is guided by self-interest as he seeks to avoid prosecution himself.

RELATED | Rep. Bob Rita says ex-Speaker Mike Madigan ruled House through ‘fear and intimidation’

Bit-by-bit, defense attorneys sought to dismantle the testimony offered over the last week by former ComEd executive turned government informant Marquez.

Again and again they attempted to make a point that what the defendants in the “ComEd Four” trial did, as they repeatedly agreed to then House Speaker Mike Madigan’s hiring and political fundraising requests over the years was not, in fact, bribery, but everyday legal lobbying. Lobbying that according to ComEd documents, cost the company over $2 million a year.

RELATED | ComEd Four trial: Prosecutors try to connect Mike Madigan to various utility contracts, hirings

“As a lobbyist, it is not illegal to try and influence an elected official. That is the job?” asked defense attorney Patrick Cotter in court.

“Yes,” Marquez responded.

“It is also proper, under the law, to make campaign contributions to political parties?” Cotter asked.

“Yes it is,” Marquez said.

RELATED | ComEd Four trial: Jury hears phone calls between ex-Speaker Mike Madigan, defendant Mike McClain

And while prosecutors have spent weeks portraying Michael McClain as a man who relentlessly pursued Madigan’s requests, his defense attorney painted a picture, through emails and phone calls, of McClain as someone who used his close relationship with Madigan, and his knowledge of legislative issues, to best serve ComEd’s interests in the General Assembly, but did so without ever guaranteeing the speaker’s support.

“Does he ever say, ‘I’ll go to the Speaker because he owes us?'” Cotter asked.

“He never said words like that, correct,” answered Marquez.

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March 30, 2023 at 06:54PM

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