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Former Chicago Democrat Luis Arroyo Sentenced To 5 Years In Prison For Bribery

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


A prominent Democrat has been sentenced to 57 months in federal prison.

Former Illinois Democrat state Rep. Luis Arroyo, who pleaded guilty last year, was sentenced to 5 years in prison for a bribery scheme in which he offered a member of the Illinois Senate monthly payments to support a bill that sought to legalize sweepstakes machines.

​​U.S. District Judge Steven Seeger issued the sentence in the Dirksen Federal Building and did not mince his words.

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“You took bribes, you corrupted yourself, you corrupted the political process,” the judge said. “You tried to corrupt the law itself. You tried to change Illinois for a corrupt reason. … What you did was a frontal assault on the very idea of representative government. The public did not get what they deserve.”

Judge Seeger ripped Arroyo during the hearing, calling the Democrat lawmaker a “dirty politician who was on the take” and a “corruption super-spreader,” who through his actions “injected” corruption into both the Illinois House and Senate.

“Arroyo, 67, of Chicago, was first indicted on one charge of bribery in October 2019 and resigned from the Illinois House one month later. He pleaded guilty last November to one count of wire fraud,” local news outlet WTTW reported.

“At the time of his indictment, Arroyo was registered as a Chicago lobbyist focused on sweepstakes legislation, according to records filed with the Chicago Board of Ethics. Prosecutors allege he was paid tens of thousands of dollars by James Weiss — the owner of sweepstakes firm Collage LLC and husband to former state Rep. Maria “Toni” Berrios — to push legislation that would have legalized gambling machines,” the outlet reported.

During the hearing, Arroyo asked for the judge to consider the entirety of his life’s work before issuing a sentence, which the judge was unmoved by.

“I cannot begin to put into words how awful I feel. What I did, awful,” Arroyo told the court. “I understand there has to be consequences for the choice I made. I accept that. I’ll always accept responsibility completely today.”

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Arroyo’s defense team argued he was not the “recipient of a bribe,” but rather a “conduit for the bribe,” suggesting Arroyo was simply taking monthly payments from Weiss and giving it to an Illinois politician referred to in court documents as “State Senator A.”

“Without question, Mr. Arroyo did accept money from co-defendant James T. Weiss to provide to State Senator A as part of the bribery scheme,” Arroyo’s attorney Michael Gillespie wrote. “He does not deny his role and participation in the instant offense and accepts full responsibility for his actions.”

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Assistant U.S. Attorney James Durkin wrote in a previous filing that Arroyo’s bribery scheme wasn’t a “momentary lapse in judgment” and that he took a series of calculated actions.

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“He knew right from wrong when he committed this crime,” Durkin said. “But he betrayed his office and his constituents for his own personal benefit.”

In addition to being sentenced to 5 years in prison, Arroyo was also ordered to forfeit $32,500, the amount Seeger determined he had received in bribes from Weiss’ company.

Arroyo must turn himself in by Aug. 31 to begin serving his sentence.

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