Friday, October 23, 2020

Former ComEd executive Fidel Marquez to plead guilty in bribery case

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A former ComEd executive is scheduled to plead guilty this week in a bribery conspiracy case alleging he helped arrange payments to allies of powerful Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan to influence legislation in Springfield.

Fidel Marquez, a longtime lobbyist and former senior vice president of governmental affairs at ComEd, is so far the only person charged in what the utility has admitted in court was a yearslong scheme to win Madigan’s support.

Marquez, who was charged three weeks ago in a one-count criminal information, is scheduled to enter a guilty plea on Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Mary Rowland, court records show.

The hearing comes on the same day a special legislative committee in Springfield is slated to hear testimony about the scheme from a current ComEd executive. The committee has also sought the testimony of Madigan and a number of lobbyists and former ComEd officials implicated in the bribery case, but all have declined.

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Federal prosecutors have said their ongoing investigation shows ComEd sought to influence legislation in Springfield by making payments to Madigan associates and approved lobbyists, some of whom did little or no actual work for the company.

ComEd was charged with bribery in July and has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the government, agreeing to pay a record $200 million fine and cooperate with investigators in exchange for the charges being dropped in three years.

Madigan, the nation’s longest-serving speaker and Illinois Democratic Party chairman, has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged.

The 4-page information against Marquez alleged that from 2011 to 2019, he conspired with others to corruptly solicit jobs, contracts and monetary payments for the benefit of Madigan — identified as Public Official A — and his associates with the intent of influencing legislation beneficial to ComEd.

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Specifically, on July 30, 2018, Marquez directed a $37,500 payment to Company 1, “a substantial portion of which was intended for associates of (Madigan),” the information stated.

The Chicago Tribune reported last year that Marquez was a focus of the federal investigation, as is former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, who abruptly retired last year. She has not been charged with wrondoing.

Many of the illegal payments allegedly were arranged by downstate lobbyist Michael McClain, a key confidant and adviser at the center of the probe, according to court records.

One example cited in ComEd’s deferred prosecution agreement involved a man identified as “Consultant 1,” who allegedly was speaking to a ComEd executive identified by the Tribune as Marquez.

The consultant said he believed McClain had spoken to Madigan about the payments, saying the money was “to keep (Public Official A) happy (and) I think it’s worth it, because you’d hear otherwise,” prosecutors alleged.




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