Thursday, May 24, 2018

Will ‘da Judge’ buy “Fast Eddie” claim his witnesses are too old to remember?

I understand that Edward R. Vrdolyak has no desire to go to prison.

VRDOLYAK: Trying to get charges dismissed
The one-time Cook County Democratic chairman and City Council member who led the vocal opposition to then-Mayor Harold Washington has already done one stint as a “guest” of the government, and sure doesn’t want to go back there ever again.

BUT I FIND myself intrigued by the line of defense that Vrdolyak is trying to put up for himself.

Vrdolyak spent the bulk of 2011 in a federal prison work camp in Terre Haute, Ind., following his conviction on charges related to real estate transactions in the Gold Coast neighborhood.

Two years ago, he was hit with another round of indictments – for his involvement in the settlement of a national lawsuit against the tobacco industry back in the 1990s. It resulted in a $9.2 billion payout by “Big Tobacco,” and Vrdolyak managed to enrich himself significantly.

So much so that federal prosecutors say he did too well, to the point of being criminal. They use the word “unauthorized” to describe it.

BUT VRDOLYAK CONTENDS he didn’t do anything illegal, and in fact had the blessing of political people (including then-Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan) for his conduct.
WASHINGTON: Eddie's legacy exceed Harold

He’s trying to get a judge to dismiss the charges, with his own attorneys filing motions claiming that the people who could testify under oath that Vrdolyak’s legal activities were truly legitimate aren’t capable of doing so.

They point out one person who was fully aware of Vrdolyak is now dead, while another suffers from severe dementia. A third would be Jim Ryan himself, although the one-time Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate suffers from his own ailments that would make it impossible for him to be called upon to testify.

All this may be true. But I will be amazed if any judge out there would be inclined to dismiss the case on these grounds.

BECAUSE IT WOULD truly create a circumstance where someone could escape the legal system and “justice” because of the passage of time.
RYAN: Could Jim 'clear' Vrdolyak?

And when it comes to Vrdolyak, I’m sure the kind of people most eager to see him obtain another criminal conviction and prison term (one most likely long enough that the 80-year-old would die in prison) will not want to allow for any reason to come up that would let him escape justice.

For the politico known as “Fast Eddie” is the man who will forevermore be remembered for the way he openly led a resistance to Washington’s election in 1983 as the city’s first black mayor.

That was something some people would want forevermore celebrated. The fact that Vrdolyak was able to tie up in knots just about everything Washington tried to accomplish during the first few years of his mayoral term is something they will forevermore be bitter about.

TO THEM, THE only true justice will be if Vrdolyak gains as his political legacy a record of recidivism. To become one of the few people in Chicago political people who wind up with multiple convictions and prison terms would be the only true justice to those individuals.

Seriously, most people with political corruption convictions wind up withering away into nothingness. It would be Vrdolyak and someone like one-time alderman Ambrosio Medrano who would have records of returns to prison.

MEDRANO: In Vrdolyak's league?
But a part of me can’t help but wonder if Vrdolyak’s attorneys have a point about the 20-year delay between the actions and the bringing of an indictment “dramatically, and even fatally hindering (Vrdolyak) from establishing that fact to the jury.”

All of which makes me think no matter how a judge ultimately rules, this is going to be a criminal case that will leave some people seriously p-o’ed about its outcome and complaining for life about the lack of justice.


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