Telco gets caught paying off politicians for legislative favors. #pressrelease

October 17, 2022

3 Min Read

CHICAGO – Illinois Bell Telephone Company, LLC, which does business as AT&T Illinois, today agreed to pay $23 million to resolve a federal criminal investigation into alleged misconduct involving the company’s efforts to unlawfully influence former Illinois Speaker of the House Michael J. Madigan.

The investigation of AT&T Illinois is being resolved with a deferred prosecution agreement under which the company admitted it arranged for payments to be made to an ally of Madigan to influence and reward Madigan’s efforts to assist AT&T Illinois with respect to legislation sought by the company. The U.S. Attorney’s Office today filed a one-count criminal information in U.S. District Court in Chicago charging AT&T Illinois with using an interstate facility to promote legislative misconduct. Under the agreement, the government will defer prosecution on the charge for two years and then seek to dismiss it if AT&T Illinois abides by certain conditions, including continuing to cooperate with any investigation related to the misconduct alleged in the information.

The deferred prosecution agreement requires AT&T Illinois to pay $23 million to the federal Crime Victims Fund. Arraignment in federal court in Chicago has not yet been scheduled.

The charge and the deferred prosecution agreement were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Ashley T. Johnson, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI; and Justin Campbell, Special Agent-in-Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amarjeet S. Bhachu, Diane MacArthur, Timothy J. Chapman, Sarah E. Streicker, Michelle Kramer, and Julia Schwartz.

AT&T Illinois’s admissions regarding the charged conduct are contained in a Statement of Facts attached to the deferred prosecution agreement. AT&T Illinois admitted that in 2017 it arranged for an ally of Madigan to indirectly receive $22,500 in payments from the company. The company paid the money through an intermediary – a lobbying firm that performed services for AT&T Illinois. Although AT&T Illinois employees formulated a pretextual assignment for Madigan’s ally to disguise why the ally was being paid, the ally performed no actual work for AT&T Illinois and the company made no effort to ensure any work was performed. AT&T Illinois acknowledged in the agreement that AT&T Illinois’s then-president used an interstate facility to facilitate Madigan’s indirect receipt of a thing of value, namely the payments made to his ally, in exchange for Madigan’s vote and influence over a bill.

In addition to the monetary penalty and its continued cooperation with the government, AT&T Illinois’s obligations under the agreement include implementing a new compliance and ethics program and providing annual reports to the government regarding remediation and implementation of the program. If AT&T Illinois fails to completely fulfill each of its obligations under the agreement during the two-year term, the U.S. Attorney’s Office can initiate prosecution of the charged offense.

Related: AT&T Illinois' deferred prosecution agreement.

US Attorney – Northern District of Illinois

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