CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago attorney indicted along with former Chicago Ald. Edward Vrdolyak once threatened to sue the ex-politician, make “front page news” and “open a can of worms” over a secret deal that has so far netted them over $10 million, federal prosecutors say.

Daniel P. Soso allegedly made the threat to another attorney after Vrdolyak stopped making payments to him in connection with Illinois’ nearly two-decade-old settlement with tobacco companies. The feds say Vrdolyak was promised $65 million from the settlement even though he “did no work on the Tobacco Lawsuit,” and he agreed to give a portion of it to Soso.

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However, the feds say Soso was dodging taxes, and the IRS served Vrdolyak with a levy in 2005 and 2006 demanding Vrdolyak pay any money he owed to Soso to the IRS. That’s when Vrdolyak allegedly stopped paying Soso and told the IRS he owed Soso nothing.

Soso then allegedly wrote in an email to another attorney that Vrdolyak said he “had to make cash payments to ‘individuals and entities’ exceeding one million dollars in connection with the tobacco litigation,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu wrote in a document filed Monday.

“Soso noted that if Soso had to, Soso would file a legal action against Vrdolyak to get the money due to him, and that this would be ‘front page news and most definitely open a can of worms that I would rather stay closed,’” according to Bhachu’s filing.

Vrdolyak attorney Michael Monico called the claim “absurd and utterly false.”

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“And if they had a shred of credible evidence of that, wouldn’t that have been in the indictment?” Monico said.

Soso appears to be in plea talks with federal prosecutors. He and Vrdolyak are set to go on trial March 5. An indictment filed last year charged the former alderman with impeding the IRS and tax evasion.

Lawyers hinted in April that a bigger indictment could be around the corner, but no new charges have been filed.

It’s not clear how much money Vrdolyak made from the tobacco settlement. Federal prosecutors told a judge in 2010 that he “has a guaranteed income stream of $260,000 per year . . . until 2023 from tobacco-related litigation.” And Bhachu wrote that Vrdolyak and Soso “have so far received in excess of $10 million in fees.”

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