News from State Representative Dan Ugaste: October 17, 2022


AT&T Illinois to pay $23 million fine, admit guilt, as former president charged in Madigan corruption probe.  AT&T Illinois has agreed to pay a $23 million fine for trying to illegally sway former state House Speaker Michael Madigan by steering $22,500 to a Madigan ally as key legislation moved through Springfield.

Former AT&T Illinois President Paul La Schiazza, 65, also now faces charges for conspiring to influence Madigan.

The utility has also entered into a so-called deferred-prosecution agreement with U.S. Attorney John Lausch’s office, similar to the deal cut by ComEd when the feds charged it with bribery more than two years ago.

AT&T Illinois has cooperated with federal prosecutors —and says it will continue to do so —under the terms of the two-year deal.

The case against ComEd first implicated Madigan in a nearly decade long scheme that has since led to the indictment of Madigan himself, as well as four people tied to ComEd who are also accused of trying to illegally influence Madigan by rewarding his allies.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, AT&T Illinois’s admissions regarding the charged conduct are contained in a Statement of Facts attached to the deferred prosecution agreement.  AT&T Illinois admitted that in 2017 it arranged for an ally of Madigan to indirectly receive $22,500 in payments from the company.  The company paid the money through an intermediary – a lobbying firm that performed services for AT&T Illinois.  Although AT&T Illinois employees formulated a pretextual assignment for Madigan’s ally to disguise why the ally was being paid, the ally performed no actual work for AT&T Illinois and the company made no effort to ensure any work was performed.  AT&T Illinois acknowledged in the agreement that AT&T Illinois’s then-president used an interstate facility to facilitate Madigan’s indirect receipt of a thing of value, namely the payments made to his ally, in exchange for Madigan’s vote and influence over a bill.

Madigan charged in superceding indictment.  After Friday morning’s announcement of the AT&T corruption charges, it was further announced that a federal grand jury has also leveled a superceding indictment against former Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan. Madigan and longtime confidant Michael McClain now face an additional conspiracy count alleging the corrupt scheme with AT&T Illinois.

Former Madigan chief of staff Tim Mapes makes first in-person court appearance on charges stemming from ComEd bribery probe.  Six people have been charged as part of the ComEd bribery scandal over the past two years, but none had ever set foot physically in a federal courtroom — until now.

Timothy Mapes, the former chief of staff to then-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, walked into the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse on Thursday morning for a status hearing on charges he lied to a federal grand jury investigating the alleged ComEd scheme. […]

An indictment filed last year alleged Mapes repeatedly lied during a March 31, 2021, appearance before the grand jury when asked about Madigan’s relationship with his longtime confidant Michael McClain, who was charged in 2020 with orchestrating a bribery scheme by Commonwealth Edison to shower money on Madigan’s associates in exchange for the speaker’s help with legislation in Springfield.


More than half of Illinois’ 102 State’s Attorneys have filed lawsuits over the SAFE-T Act, citing constitutionality and public safety concerns.  Current litigation, filed by state’s attorneys who have standing because the SAFE-T Act will dictate what they can and cannot do, asserts that this State act, as written, is unconstitutional. More than one-half of the 102 state’s attorneys of Illinois have joined as plaintiffs in these lawsuits. Their standing makes this an urgent constitutional case for the courts of Illinois to decide. 

At the same time, police officers and law enforcement professionals have solidified their case against the controversial State law, which is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2023. Neither the police, nor elected state’s attorneys, nor advocates for crime victims’ rights were consulted prior to the sudden passage of this bill in the “midnight hours” of the lame-duck session night of January 2021. 

A policy case against the Democrats’ SAFE-T Act involves six major flaws in the new law: (1) it ends cash bail without containing any recourse for victims; (2) it zeroes out the ability of a judge to control the behavior of a defendant prior to trial; (3) it makes some crimes, including dangerous and violent crimes, non-detainable; (4) it erases all of the case law that Illinois prosecutors have used to show that a defendant is a threat to the community; (5) it erases almost all of the case law that Illinois prosecutors have used to show a high likelihood of willful flight by a defendant; and (6) if the Act remains in force without change, thousands of persons accused of criminal offense, including violent criminal offenses, will be released out on to Illinois streets beginning on January 1, 2023.   

Wave of resignations further disrupt law enforcement in Cook County.  In Illinois’ largest county by population, Cook County, a “mass exodus” of career prosecutors is taking place. Experienced prosecutors are leaving the office of the Cook County State’s Attorney, describing a dysfunctional workplace that has begun to demand that its remaining professionals take on impossible or degrading workloads. When four Cook County Assistant State’s Attorneys resigned from the office’s Felony Review Unit, the unit assigned to practice executive command and control over some of the most violent and lethal crimes on the county’s police blotter, they stated that professionals in their office had been asked to put in emergency time at a local traffic court.   

Over a recent 12-month period from July 2021 to July 2022, more than 235 people have resigned from the office of the current Cook County State’s Attorney. These resignations mean longer delays in moving each Cook County criminal case from booking to trial. These delays add to the urgency expressed by remaining prosecutors over the pending implementation of the so-called SAFE-T Act throughout Illinois, because under this Act – starting on January 1, 2023 – most defendants awaiting trial will be released to their own custody. This will include defendants in Cook County, which contains 5.275 million people – more than 40% of the population of the State.


Gas prices resume their climb; grocery prices rising.  After a brief respite, gas prices have once again begun to climb in Illinois. Motor fuels now once again cost more than $4.00/gallon throughout most of Illinois, with diesel fuel prices and many Chicago-area motor fuel prices above $5.00/gallon. Motor fuel price inflation harms almost all consumers, as they are tied to specific driving patterns that cannot be changed quickly or easily.

Prices of food and beverages sold in grocery stores continue to rise in Illinois at double-digit rates. A month-by-month survey, using point-of-sale price data, showed groceries cost 1% more in September 2022 than in August 2022. This 1% 30-day increase was equivalent to grocery price inflation of 12.7% for a full year. This marked a continuation of existing price patterns at grocery stores; U.S. groceries cost 13.3% more in September 2022 than they did one year earlier. Price pressures were especially dramatic in dairy products, snack products, and packaged frozen meals.


New bridge on Tri-State Tollway.  The first half of the rebuilt Mile Long Bridge carries traffic in both directions over the Des Plaines River and waterways. This heavily-traveled section of I-294 will be a key link between Chicago’s western and southern suburbs. Underneath the 4,800-foot-long bridge’s exits, at 75th Street and La Grange Road, are key distribution facilities that underlie Chicago’s standing as a center of commerce. The UPS Chicago Area Consolidation Hub, which opened in 1995, is located adjacent to the 75th Street cloverleaf. Sorting approximately 1.6 million packages per day, the hub is the largest package sorting facility in the world. Other distribution centers are also located here. Many of the items sorted and distributed adjacent to the Tri-State will travel over this bridge.

Opening up the southbound four lanes of the Mile Long Bridge marks the completion of the second phase of a $500 million road improvement project carried out by the Illinois Toll Highway Authority (ITHA) and paid for by user’s toll dollars. The northbound bridge was rebuilt in 2020, leaving the southbound lanes for completion in 2022. The new lanes were scheduled to open on Wednesday, October 12. The original bridge, built in 1958, had become overburdened by up to 150,000 cars and trucks every day. The old southbound Tri-State concrete infrastructure will be demolished and removed, with work expected to be completed by the end of 2023.


Tips from the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal.  Halloween is coming, and the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) reminds Illinoisans that two out of every five fires are started by candles. Tips on how to maintain child safety and family security in places where candles are burning, or other fires are smoking, are included in the OSFM’s Halloween Safety Tips. Writing in alliance with law enforcement, OSFM also warns us against unsafe non-fire behavior. When trick or treating, children can wear glowing segments or glow-sticks as parts of their costumes. Their masks, if they wear them, should have large eyeholes to see clearly in all directions. Trick-or-treaters should carry flashlights to light their way and to shine at approaching strangers. Most important of all, trick-or-treating children and their families should exercise extreme care when walking along or crossing streets at night.


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