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Convicted ex-utility boss wants to pause SEC civil case

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A former Illinois utility boss convicted of public corruption last year has again asked a judge to put the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil case against her on hold.

Former Commonwealth Edison CEO Anne Pramaggiore was convicted in May 2023 of bribery-related charges as part of a multi-year scheme to corruptly influence longtime former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan in exchange for favorable legislation in Springfield. Prosecutors said that the utility paid out $1.3 million in jobs, contracts and payments to associates of Madigan over eight years.

Pramaggiore has not yet been sentenced in that case and is appealing the criminal conviction.

She’s also fighting a civil case filed last year by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC wants to bar her from serving as an officer or director of a public company, among other civil penalties.

In the SEC case, Pramaggiore wants to put everything on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court decides a case focused on the federal bribery statute.

The SEC’s complaint against Pramaggiore alleges she participated in, and in some instances directed, the bribery scheme. The complaint alleges that Pramaggiore did not disclose the bribery scheme and instead misled investors when she characterized ComEd’s lobbying activities as legitimate. The complaint also alleges that, as part of the scheme, Pramaggiore lied to Exelon’s auditors and filed false certifications.

Pramaggiore’s defense team previously asked for a stay in the SEC case, citing in part her “strong likelihood of success” in overturning her conviction. Pramaggiore also recently got a reprieve from her sentencing in the federal criminal case while the U.S. Supreme Court takes up a case focused on the federal bribery statute she was convicted of violating.

In December 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to take up the case of James E. Snyder v. U.S.

Former Portage, Indiana, Mayor James Snyder took office in 2012 at a time when he was strapped for cash. His business, First Financial Trust Mortgage, owed nearly $100,000 in payroll taxes as of 2009. And he was behind on his personal taxes. The IRS had taken money from his personal bank accounts in both 2010 and 2011.

Prosecutors contended that when it came time for the city to buy garbage trucks, Snyder rigged the bidding process to make sure the contracts went to Great Lakes Peterbilt, a trucking company owned by brothers Robert and Steve Buha. Great Lakes Peterbilt got two contracts with a total value of $1.125 million. Three weeks after the second contract, Great Lakes Peterbilt sent a $13,000 check to a defunct company that Snyder owned. Snyder then moved most of the money to his personal account. When the FBI asked about the $13,000, Snyder said it was for consulting services he provided to Great Lakes Peterbilt. Snyder was eventually convicted of bribery twice in two trials.

At issue before the Supreme Court is whether a section of the federal bribery statute criminalizes gratuities – payments in recognition of actions a state or local official has already taken or committed to take, without any quid pro quo agreement to take such actions.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide the Snyder case in June.

Pramaggiore’s defense team noted that the judge overseeing her criminal case had paused sentencing in that case until after the Supreme Court decision in the Snyder case.

“Judge Leinenweber reasoned that the underlying criminal allegations are ‘precisely in the ambit of Snyder,’ and it therefore ‘makes more sense to find out precisely what the Seventh Circuit case law will be before we proceed to sentencing,"” Pramaggiore’s attorneys wrote in their latest motion.

Prosecutors opposed Pramaggiore’s initial motion for a stay

The SEC has yet to respond to Pramaggiore’s latest motion.