Bully Burke

A shakedown as old as government.

The criminal complaint targeting Chicago Ald. Ed Burke reads like a cliched crime novel: Influential alderman squeezes restaurant executives to benefit his law business, delicately at first, over lunch at a private wood-paneled country club. Federal agents locate the alderman via a black Crown Victoria, his riding-around car, in the parking lot.

The alderman is known for his silver coiffure, pinstriped suits and pocket squares. His three-story brick home on the Southwest Side is landlocked by railroad tracks and industry, strip malls and bungalows — but protected by a tall wrought-iron fence with a locked gate.

He is untouchable. Until now.

Burke, of Chicago’s 14th Ward, faces one count of attempted extortion. The U.S. Department of Justice accuses him of holding up city permits and slow-walking a restaurant renovation in his ward until the company agreed to hire Burke’s law firm, Klafter & Burke, for property tax work.