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.
CHICAGO — A federal grand jury has leveled an additional criminal charge against former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan as AT&T Illinois agreed to pay a $23 million fine for trying to illegally sway the once-powerful politician.
Madigan and longtime confidant Michael McClain face an additional conspiracy count alleging corruption involving AT&T Illinois. The utility’s former president 65-year-old Paul La Schiazza, also now faces charges for conspiring to influence Madigan.
The utility arranged for an ally of Madigan’s, former state Rep. Eddie Acevedo, to receive $22,500 as key legislation moved through Springfield.
AT&T Illinois has 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.
Acevedo pleaded guilty late last year to tax evasion.
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 McClain and three other people tied to ComEd who are also accused of trying to illegally influence Madigan by rewarding his allies.
Defense attorneys for Madigan and McClain declined to comment. An AT&T Illinois spokesperson said: “We hold ourselves and our contractors to the highest ethical standards. We are committed to ensuring that this never happens again.”
La Schiazza could not be reached.
The scandal led in early 2021 to the end of Madigan’s reign as the longest-serving state House speaker in the nation, though Madigan wouldn’t be charged until earlier this year.
WBEZ reported earlier this year that AT&T Illinois, officially known as Illinois Bell Telephone Company LLC, could face a criminal charge as an offshoot of the Madigan investigation. The utility said as much in a federal regulatory filing.
“Recently, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois informed us that they are considering filing a charge against one of our subsidiaries, Illinois Bell Telephone Company, LLC (Illinois Bell), arising out of a single, nine-month consulting contract in 2017 worth $22,500,” the company disclosed.
Though ComEd’s deal with the feds famously referred to Madigan as “Public Official A,” AT&T Illinois’ names the now-charged former speaker outright. It says that in 2017, the utility arranged for an unnamed individual to indirectly receive $22,500 from AT&T Illinois even though that person did no work in return.
AT&T Illinois “knew that Madigan’s support was essential to their legislative success,” as his office had previously stopped key legislation from moving forward.
Following a legislative failure in 2015, someone circulated a “Lessons Learned” document. Under the heading “Speaker Madigan” was written, “AT&T is not as ‘helpful’ when requests are made as Commonwealth Edison.”
Contributing: Mitch Dudek This is a developing story. Check back for updates.