AT&T Illinois to pay $23M fine over scheme involving state's former House speaker

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AT&T Illinois has agreed to pay a $23 million fine and its former president has been indicted on federal charges over a scheme involving former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who was arrested on racketeering and bribery charges earlier this year.

Illinois’ former Speaker of the House Michael Madigan speaks during a committee hearing Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Chicago. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP, File / Getty Images)

The Department of Justice announced Friday that AT&T Illinois will pay the fine to resolve a federal criminal investigation into the firm's "efforts to unlawfully influence" Madigan, noting that the utility company "admitted that in 2017 it arranged for an ally of Madigan to receive $22,500 from the company" via a lobbying firm.

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The same day, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois unsealed a five-count indictment of former AT&T Illinois President Paul La Schiazza, 65, on allegations that he conspired with Madigan and a friend of Madigan's, Michael McClain, to "corruptly arrange" for the payment to be made.

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When contacted for comment, an AT&T Illinois spokesperson told FOX Business in an emailed statement, "We hold ourselves and our contractors to the highest ethical standards. We are committed to ensuring that this never happens again."

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As part of a deferred prosecution agreement, AT&T has agreed to continue cooperating with ongoing investigations surrounding the scandal.

Lobbyist Mike McClain, middle, appears outside House Speaker Michael Madigan's office at the state Capitol in Springfield, Illinois, on May 25, 2012.  (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Madigan, 80, and McClain, 74, were charged in March in a 22-count indictment accusing the former House speaker of using his position to illegally solicit funds from businesses for himself and others via a criminal enterprise for nearly a decade with his friend as a co-conspirator.

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The DOJ stacked an additional conspiracy charge each against Madigan and McClain as part of Friday's flurry of announcements surrounding the case.  

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