FILE - Michael Madigan, 2016

Former Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan

(The Center Square) – A former Commonwealth Edison executive told jurors Monday that rewards for associates of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan were disguised through a series of contracts.

Fidel Marquez, who served as the utility's senior vice president of governmental and external affairs from 2012 to 2019, said those associates didn't do any lobbying work for the utility but were paid to curry favor with Madigan. Marquez pleaded guilty to bribery charges in September 2020.

As part of an agreement with prosecutors to support his bid to avoid prison time at sentencing, Marquez said he agreed to testify truthfully at the trial. Marquez said he agreed to cooperate with the government in 2019 after agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation visited his mother's home and played him a series of wiretapped conversations. Marquez also said he agreed to secretly record his conversations with the defendants.

Marquez said former Chicago alderman Frank Olivo, longtime Madigan campaign operative Ray Nice, former Cook County Recorder of Deeds Edward Moody, former state Rep. Eddie Acevedo and former alderman Mike Zalewski did little, if any, work for ComEd.

"I didn't expect for them to be doing any work for ComEd because I knew they were brought on as a favor to Mike Madigan," he said.

Questioned by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu, Marquez said Madigan "wielded immense power" over the Illinois House. As speaker, he had the power to control which bills were called for a vote and which measures died in committee. Marquez said it was difficult to get legislation passed without Madigan's support. 

Marquez also said he did not believe key legislation that benefited the utility – including the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act and the Future Energy Jobs Act – would have passed without Madigan's support.

Marquez detailed how payments were made through contract lobbyists and how those arrangements changed over time. For example, Moody was paid as a subcontractor through Shaw Decremer, but when Decremer got in trouble for harassment, Moody's payments were shifted to a contract with former state Rep. John Bradley, Marquez said.

When Moody's payments were shifted, Marquez testified that he never spoke to Bradley or anyone else about Moody's work assignments. 

"I didn't expect him to do any work for us because he was hired at the request of Michael Madigan," he said.

Prosecutors allege former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker, former ComEd consultant Jay Doherty and former lobbyist and state lawmaker Michael McClain gave out $1.3 million in jobs, contracts and payments to Madigan associates in exchange for Madigan's support with legislation that affected ComEd in Springfield. All four defendants have all pleaded "not guilty" to conspiracy, bribery, and willfully falsifying ComEd books and records.

Marquez is expected to return to the witness stand on Tuesday. He has yet to face cross-examination. 

ComEd, the state's largest electric utility, agreed to pay $200 million in July 2020 to resolve a criminal investigation into the years-long bribery scheme. As part of a deferred prosecution agreement, ComEd admitted it arranged jobs, vendor subcontracts and payments in a bid to influence Madigan.

Investigative Reporter

Brett Rowland is an award-winning journalist who has worked as an editor and reporter in newsrooms in Illinois and Wisconsin. He is an investigative reporter for The Center Square.