Former CEO of ComEd Anne Pramaggiore defended her position while being cross-examined by federal prosecutors in her corruption trial on Tuesday, insisting that the secretly recorded call that was at the center of the FBI case against her “proves my innocence”.
He did so while coming face to face with Assistant US Attorney Sarah Streicker, who questioned Pramaggiore for about two and a half hours. and challenged statements Pramaggiore made on Monday on the witness stand.
FBI cooperator Fidel Marquez had told Pramaggiore during those calls that the people ComEd paid through contractors “pretty much collected checks” — even naming one of them as former Ward Ald 13th. Frank Olivo.
But Pramaggiore claims he was not aware they were tied to then Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. Pramaggiore told Streicker he had forgotten the call by the time two FBI agents issued a search warrant for his cell phone on May 14, 2019.
Pramaggiore and Streicker also discussed the September 2019 meeting between Pramaggiore and prosecutors.
Pramaggiore, Madigan confidant Michael McClain, former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker and former City Club President Jay Doherty were accused of arranging jobs, contracts and money for Madigan allies in an illegal attempt to influence him as crucial legislation for ComEd moved through Springfield.
Streicker's cross-examination of Pramaggiore could be a watershed moment in the trial of four former power players, now entering its sixth week. His testimony ends before the lunch break, and Hooker's lawyers are expected to begin calling the next witness.
Things had been tense since Streicker started questioning Pramaggiore. Prosecutors questioned Pramaggiore about his background as a theater major.
“You want to be an actor?” Streicker asked.
“I did,” said Pramaggiore. “It didn't go well for me.”
The phone call that sparked the most intensity during Streicker's cross-examination occurred on February 18, 2019. Marquez was an executive at ComEd at the time and had agreed to work closely with the FBI. Pramaggiore has moved on from his role as CEO of ComEd and has been promoted to CEO of Exelon Utilities.
Marquez told Pramaggiore that the people ComEd pays through contracts with the Doherty company “pretty much collect checks.” He explained that messing with it could mean things could get “bad for us in Springfield”. He also named Olivo, who once represented Madigan's power base on Chicago City Council.
Pramaggiore ultimately suggested that Marquez should tell the new CEO of ComEd that “it might be a good time to make the switch,” but he suggested he wait until the legislative session was over. He said they didn't want anyone to “turn their nose out of,” forcing ComEd to give someone a “five-year contract because we were in need of something done in Springfield.”
Despite the calls, Pramaggiore told the FBI in September 2019 that he doesn't remember whether Doherty hired subcontractors, according to his cross-examination on Tuesday. In fact, when FBI agents showed up on his phone in May 2019, Pramaggiore said he had forgotten the call.
Pramaggiore even insisted to the prosecutor that, if he remembered, “I will share it with you, because it proves my innocence.”
At one point in the call, Pramaggiore is heard saying, “Oh my God.” He testified it was because he was “shocked” by some of Marquez's comments.
“You were so surprised that you forgot this summons?” Streicker asked.
Pramaggiore told prosecutors he had told Marquez what to do and “I will assume it will be taken care of.”
“I sent (Marquez) to his boss, the CEO of ComEd, to sort it out,” Pramaggiore testified.
Streicker challenged Pramaggiore once again, asking, “And in a matter of weeks, you forgot about this call with (Marquez), right?”
Pramaggiore replied, “It probably won't take long.”
Patrick Cotter, McClain's attorney, also took turns questioning Pramaggiore about the case. He asked if there were any consequences for not adding hours to the politically connected Reyes Kurson law firm.
He said, “No,” then added that the company ended up cutting their contract from their 850 billable hours a year.
Cotter also asked if there was any particular impact coming from Madigan.
“No,” said Pramaggiore.