Ex-president of Illinois House Arroyo convicted of bribery

CHICAGO — A former Democratic leader of the Illinois House was sentenced Wednesday to nearly five years in prison for his role in a corruption scheme.

Luis Arroyo was sentenced to 57 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Steven Seeger after pleading guilty in November to a wire fraud charge alleging he attempted to bribe a state senator for the help promote legislation.

A criminal complaint alleged that Arroyo paid a $2,500 bribe to a sitting state senator who cooperated with federal investigators. The senator was not named in the complaint.

The bribe was part of a scam that involved popular but technically illegal “sweepstakes” and involved the state senator and the son-in-law of a once-powerful Cook County politician.

Arroyo was charged with corruption in October 2019 after federal prosecutors announced he paid a $2,500 bribe to the senator who carried a recording device. Arroyo resigned the following month from the House seat he had held for nearly 13 years.

A follow-up indictment filed last year added wire and mail fraud charges against Arroyo and filed similar charges against James T. Weiss, the son-in-law of former Cook County Democratic leader Joseph Berrios.

Weiss reportedly began paying bribes to Arroyo in November 2018 in exchange for lawmakers supporting legislation favorable to lottery machines, a specialty of Weiss’s company. Not technically gambling instruments, they proliferate even though state regulators had declared them illegal.

Needing an ally in the Senate, Arroyo approached a former member of that chamber who was cooperating with the FBI for leniency in an investigation into a false tax return. The senator recorded a meeting with Arroyo in which the two agreed to $2,500 a month in bribes for the senator’s complicity.

Citing unnamed sources, the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune identified the senator as Democrat Terry Link of Vernon Hills, who has repeatedly denied the label. But Link pleaded guilty in September 2020 to filing a false tax return before resigning from his post. The FBI announced that Link had cooperated with the government’s criminal investigation, and prosecutors said they would seek probation if his assistance continued in good faith.

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