Former Alderman and Schiller Park Lobbyist Hires Criminal Defense Lawyers as Feds’ Net Widens

Since last fall, the IRS has slapped two liens on Zalewski and his wife.

On Oct. 12, 2018, the Zalewskis were hit with a lien for $85,864 for unpaid income taxes in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

On March 15, 2019, the Zalewskis got a second IRS lien for $99,770 for unpaid income taxes in 2016 and 2017.

While a member of the City Council, Zalewski moonlighted on the side as a lobbyist, listing himself as president of Z Consulting Group.

Z Consulting was hired in 2018 by the Schiller Park Board Of Trustees to provide governmental lobbying services. See Schiller Park Board agenda for December 20, 2018:

Z Consulting Group has been registered to lobby state government since at least 2001, often working as a subcontractor to other Springfield lobbying firms.

In 2019 Zalewski is registered to lobby on behalf of the Village of Schiller Park, Wight & Co., Animal Welfare Institute, Comcast Cable Communications Management, Home Run Inn, PACE and the Village of Bridgeview.

On a related front, indicted Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) disclosed this week that he paid $35,000 in campaign funds to his longtime political operative and co-defendant Peter J. Andrews.

The April 1 payments, labeled simply as “consulting,” came two months before Andrews was named in a federal indictment accusing him of helping Burke shake down two businessmen trying to renovate a Burger King in the 14th Ward.

Records show Burke had never previously paid Andrews more than $10,000 a year from his campaign funds — and only paid him $5,000 a year since 2014.

But Burke also was just coming off one of the toughest re-election campaigns in his 50-year career, and Andrews runs his ward organization.

Just last month, federal investigators raided the ward office of another City Council veteran, Ald. Carrie Austin (34th). It was subsequently revealed a federal grand jury was seeking, among other things, information about the construction and financial arrangements involving Austin’s home.

As part of their City Hall probes, federal agents are known to have conducted extensive telephone wiretaps of both Burke and Ald. Danny Solis (25th). Solis later cooperated with authorities and made undercover recordings of Burke.

While it’s not known why Zalewski is under investigation, public records show he has had recent tax troubles with the Internal Revenue Service.

Former Ald. Michael Zalewski (23rd) has hired one of the city’s leading criminal defense law firms, the first confirmation he is caught up in the sweeping federal investigation of the City Council.

Newly-disclosed campaign finance reports show Zalewski paid $25,000 in May to Breen & Pugh, whose name partners Thomas Breen and Coy Pugh are considered among the city’s go-to lawyers for politicos in trouble. 

Some of their recent clients have included former Donald Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, sentenced to 14 days in prison for lying to the FBI in the Russia investigation; former Mayor Richard M. Daley nephew R.J. Vanecko, sentenced to 60 days in jail for the death of David Koschman; Chicago police officer Joseph Walsh, acquitted of conspiring to falsify reports in the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald; and Cook County Judge Joseph Claps, acquitted of bringing a gun into the courthouse.

Breen declined comment and Zalewski could not be reached. The former alderman has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

Zalewski resigned his aldermanic seat in May 2018, in partial recognition of the overwhelming Hispanic majority in the 23rd Ward that would have made re-election difficult. He was replaced by state Rep. Silvana Tabares, an ally of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Zalewski served 23 years as alderman. At the time he quit, Zalewski was chairman of the Aviation Committee, one of the more influential positions on the City Council because of its involvement with contracts at the airports.

Zalewski drew the money used to pay his lawyers from his two campaign committees, taking $12,500 each from Friends of Mike Zalewski and the 23rd Ward Democratic Organization.

While it’s not known why Zalewski is under investigation, public records show he has had recent tax troubles with the Internal Revenue Service.

Federal agents recently executed a search warrant on the Southwest Side home of retired Chicago Ald. Michael Zalewski, and sources familiar with the investigation say they were seeking records regarding the alderman’s longtime political ally, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

In a related move, federal investigators subpoenaed documents and other information from utility giant Commonwealth Edison regarding the company’s state government lobbying activity. ComEd officials confirmed they received the subpoena and said the utility is cooperating in the ongoing federal investigation.

Zalewski’s attorney, longtime Chicago defense lawyer Thomas Breen, confirmed to WBEZ and the Better Government Association that the former alderman’s home was searched by federal agents in May. Around the same time, authorities raided the home of Kevin Quinn, a Madigan operative whose brother is alderman of Madigan’s 13th Ward power base. The Zalewski search has not previously been disclosed.

“Despite the government’s interest in getting documents, we are confident there was nothing wrong in any of [Zalewski’s] conduct,” Breen said, describing the former alderman as “a working stiff for the people.”

Part of the probe centers on efforts to get work for Zalewski at ComEd and the interactions between Madigan, Zalewski and longtime ComEd lobbyist and Madigan confidant Michael McClain, according to three sources familiar with the federal investigation. The three sources declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak about the investigation.

Asked whether Zalewski had been hired in any capacity by ComEd, a utility spokeswoman declined to answer. But in a statement, ComEd spokeswoman Jean Medina said the utility and its parent company, Exelon, recently were contacted by federal agents.

“Exelon and ComEd have received a grand jury subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Illinois requiring production of information concerning its lobbying activities in the State of Illinois,” she said in an emailed statement. “Exelon and ComEd have pledged to cooperate fully and are cooperating fully with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in expeditiously providing the requested information.”


About royfmc

BS in Environmental Engineering from Northwestern University's McCormick College of Engineering MBA from DePaul University's Kellstadt's College of Business JD from DePaul University's College of Law Website:
This entry was posted in #madigoon, #taxation, Economic Development, Economy, Illinois, Illinois Pensions, illinois politics, legal services, lobbying, Mayor Caiafa, mike madigan, political satire, politics, pork, Pritzker, referendum, robert martwick, Roy F. McCampbell, Schiller Park, Social Media, Taxation, vote and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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