Ald. Burke linked to new bribery charges against real estate developer

CHICAGO — A real estate developer and local immigration attorney has been indicted for his alleged role in the Ald. Ed Burke corruption investigation.

Charles Cui, 48, is accused of giving the powerful alderman legal business in exchange for favors at Chicago City Hall.

Federal prosecutors allege Cui lied to FBI investigators, and bribed Burke to get signage approved for a vacant building Cui was trying to redevelop in 2017.

Cui, who owns multiple buildings on Irving Park Road, is now charged with bribery and official misconduct.

He is also accused of giving Burke legal business in exchange for $2 million in tax increment financing, or TIF money, and a special permit for a sign at 4901 W. Irving Park Rd.

Cui allegedly wrote in an email, which is printed here unedited: “I have TIF deal going with the City, and he is the Chairman of Finance Committee. He handled his tax appeal business card to me, and I need his favor for my tif money. In addition, I need his help for my zoning etc for my project. He is a powerful broker in City Hall, and I need him now.”

Cui initially emailed Burke for help, prosecutors alleged. When he didn’t hear back immediately, Cui emailed a friend of Burke’s and said, “I’ll ask him to represent me for property tax appeal, which will be a big bite.”

When the FBI interviewed Cui in November, he told investigators he hired Burke’s law firm to do his property tax appeal work “just because he is a good tax appeal lawyer.” But prosecutors said Cui did it to curry favor with the alderman and eventually procure special signage.

Despite corruption charges, Burke was re-elected in February to represent Chicago’s 14th Ward. Prosecutors have until May 3 to file a broader indictment against him. Burke is currently free on $10,000 bond.

Cui and Burke did not respond to requests for comment.

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