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Jurors hear 'tuna' recording for first time after judge in ex-Ald. Burke trial rejects request for mistrial

Jason Meisner, Megan Crepeau and Ray Long, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

Jurors in ex-Ald. Ed Burke’s federal corruption trial on Thursday finally heard, in Burke’s own voice, a phrase already infamous in Chicago political history:

“So did we land the, uh, the tuna?”

The “tuna” was tax business from developers of the massive Old Post Office – business that Burke had been chasing for months. In conversation after wiretapped conversation, Burke made it clear to FBI mole Ald. Daniel Solis that he wasn’t inclined to pull any strings for the developers until they agreed to be clients of Burke’s private law firm.

“I put to (the developer) that we’re not very motivated, cause nothing has happened,” Solis said in response to Burke’s question. “I said, look, I think you’ve got to help Ed out.”

Later in the May 2017 phone call, Burke repeated his tuna analogy again, telling Solis there would be something in it for him if Burke’s firm did get the business.

“If we land the tuna, there certainly will be a day of accounting,” he said. “You can count on that.”

 

Prosecutors have said Burke illegally offered to pay Solis in exchange for his help getting business from New York-based developers 601W, which was heading up the multimillion-dollar post office job.

Jurors are also expected to view on Thursday a video of Solis and Harry Skydell, the head of 601W, in which Solis tries to persuade Skydell to give Burke some business.

Burke, 79, who served 54 years as alderman before leaving the City Council in May, is charged with 14 counts including racketeering, federal program bribery, attempted extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion and using interstate commerce to facilitate an unlawful activity.

Prosecutors have alleged he repeatedly used his powerful office for his own personal gain, particularly in trying to get business for his tax firm.

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