Anne Burke Accused
The bishops' National Review Board chair Anne Burke receives some highly unfavorable notice in a new book by Robert Cooley called When Corruption Was King (NY: Carroll & Graf, 2004). Cooley claims to have been a corrupt criminal lawyer with Chicago mob ties who fixed cases by opting for bench trials and then bribing the judge. He later cooperated with Federal prosecutors by tape-recording and testifying against his former clients and other corrupt politicians and mob figures in RICO cases. Cooley contends that Anne Burke's husband Ed was and remains a thoroughly corrupt power broker who works behind the scenes to do favors for Chicago-area mafiosi and other criminals whose political support he needs. The passage pertinent to Anne Burke concerns the period when Cooley was pretending to be engaged in business-as-usual while actually working as a government mole. He claims (pp. 213f.) that a crooked Chicago policeman named Pesoli tried to get him to put in the fix in a molestation trial:
Late in 1986, Blackie Pesoli approached me to see if I would "handle" another, more notorious child abuse case. This one involved a Chicago high school principal named James Moffat. He was accused of molesting five students (four boys and a girl) at least eight times. I told Blackie this sort of case turned my stomach, and he didn't bug me any more about it. But then I saw that the case ended up with Alderman Ed Burke's wife, Anne, and a high-priced lawyer named Lawrence O'Gara. It was to be decided in a bench trial by Francis Mahon, one of the Circuit Court judges Ed Burke had made. Everyone thought Mahon was straight, and maybe he was, but this time I didn't ask the Feds for permission to intervene. Instead, I called the judge's personal bailiff and disguised my voice. I said, "The Feds know Eddy Burke is behind fixing this case, so they're paying real close attention." The judge found Moffat guilty and called the evidence "shocking and ugly." Of course, Anne Burke screamed to high heaven about the verdict, but this was no flimsy case.
In sum: Cooley claims that Ed and Anne Burke believed they had Judge Mahon in their pocket and that he would acquit a guilty abuser, but that Cooley's back-door intervention made it impossible for Mahon to play along.
By his own admission Cooley is a marginal character whose new role as a truth-teller is a shaky one, and I have no basis for assessing the accuracy of his narrative in general or his charge against Burke in particular. Cooley may be slandering Burke for motives of his own, and I'd be pleased to learn that Burke was innocent, if only because of the value of the NRB's report issued on her watch. But Cooley's charge is a charge that deserves a reply, a fuller one than Burke tendered in response to criticism of her friendship with child-molesting priest and sleazeball Thomas O'Gorman, which caught our attention in April.
Earlier this week Anne Burke responded to Cardinal Mahony's tactics of non-disclosure in the following terms:
"Our report discussed that one of the problems is the lack of transparency that got us into this crisis. I think the more we do to be upfront and to be transparent and say, 'These are our files and if there's anything there, we too want to make sure that justice is done,' the better."
Excellent advice, your honor. Show us, please, how it's done.
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Posted by: -
Sep. 10, 2004 5:41 PM ET USA
A friend of mine often quips, "No good deed will go unpunished." Judge Burke seems to be put on the burner because she did some pretty unpopular, but good things for the Church, and, by association with her husband. Be darned careful how you make insinuations when you don't have all of the evidence. Jashu