CHICAGO (CBS) — Fidel Marquez, a politically connected former ComEd executive, pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon to federal bribery charges, admitting he helped give out jobs, contracts, and payments to allies of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan in an effort to influence legislation beneficial to the utility giant.
Marquez, who is cooperating with the federal investigation of ComEd’s lobbying practices, pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit bribery, which carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, but federal prosecutors said they will recommend a sentence of probation only if he fully cooperates.
According to his plea deal, between 2012 and 2019, Marquez schemed with other ComEd executives and lobbyists to steer jobs, contracts, and money to Madigan’s allies, in an effort to get the speaker’s support for legislation that would benefit ComEd.
According to court documents, Marquez helped direct a $37,500 payment to an unnamed company, “a substantial portion of which was intended for associates of [Madigan].”
A sentencing date for Marquez has not yet been scheduled. Prosecutors will not move forward with sentencing until Marquez’s cooperation is complete.
Earlier this year, federal prosecutors accused ComEd of a yearslong bribery scheme that sought to curry Madigan’s favor in advancing legislation relaxing state regulation of ComEd’s rates by directing $1.3 million in payments to the speaker’s associates. ComEd acknowledged it stood to benefit by more than $150 million from that legislation.
Madigan has not been charged with a crime and has denied any wrongdoing.
Meantime, ComEd has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the feds, and has agreed to pay a $200 million fine, enact a number of reforms, and cooperate with investigators in exchange for prosecutors dropping charges in 2023 if ComEd lives up to its obligations.
Marquez’s plea comes on the same day a current ComEd executive is slated to testify at an Illinois House Special Investigating Committee hearing on the bribery scheme. The panel is investigating whether or not Madigan should be disciplined for “conduct unbecoming a legislator.”
Republicans on the panel also have asked Madigan, Marquez, and several other lobbyists and former ComEd executives to testify, but all have declined.