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Luis Arroyo

Former Illinois Rep. Luis Arroyo pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud related to a bribery scheme.

Seth Perlman

Former Illinois lawmaker Luis Arroyo pleads guilty to wire fraud

A former Democratic Illinois state lawmaker from Chicago pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal wire fraud charge in connection with a 2019 bribery scheme aimed at advancing gambling legislation in Springfield.

Ex-state Rep. Luis Arroyo, a Democrat who represented Chicago’s West and Northwest sides in the Illinois House for 13 years, admitted to offering a bribe to an unnamed state senator to help advance a bill benefiting the sweepstakes industry.

That senator, WBEZ and other media outlets have confirmed, was Terry Link, a Vernon Hills Democrat who left the Senate last year and later pleaded guilty to a federal tax charge.

Arroyo, once a member of Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan’s leadership team, was handed expanded charges in October 2020 with offering monthly payments of $2,500 to Link, who was cooperating with federal agents. Madigan was not implicated in the scheme.

As a result of his plea, Arroyo now faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 18.

Arroyo was named in an eight-count federal superseding indictment along with James Weiss, a former lobbyist and the son-in-law of former Cook County Democratic Assessor Joe Berrios and husband of Berrios’ daughter, former state Rep. Toni Berrios, D-Chicago. Arroyo wound up pleading guilty to one count in the indictment.

“Are you, in fact, guilty of the crime charged in count one of the superseding indictment?” U.S. District Judge Steven Seeger asked Arroyo during a virtual hearing Wednesday.

“Yes, judge,” Arroyo answered.

While a member of the Illinois House, Arroyo had a side gig as a lobbyist for a company that operates “sweepstakes” machines, an unregulated industry that operates similarly to video gambling. Arroyo admitted Wednesday that he offered Link a bribe to induce him to push the legislation on behalf of one of Arroyo’s sweepstakes clients.

The exchange was captured in secret government recordings.

“What’s in it for me, though?” Link was recorded as saying when Arroyo laid out the scheme to him outside a Highland Park restaurant.

“If you put a price on it, I mean, if you want to get paid, you want somebody else to get a check monthly, a monthly stipend, we could put them on contract,” Arroyo replied, according to charging documents, “We could put you on a contract.”

Almost three weeks later, prosecutors say Arroyo wrote a $2,500 check made out to a name the cooperating senator gave him.

“This is the jackpot,” Arroyo said, according to the criminal complaint.

Dave McKinney covers Illinois politics and government for WBEZ. Follow him on Twitter @davemckinney.

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