Luis Arroyo

FILE - In this April 16, 2013, file photo, Illinois Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, speaks on the House floor during session in Springfield, Ill. Arroyo a former Democratic leader in the Illinois House of Representatives pleaded guilty Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, in a bribery scheme that cost him his political career and could send him to prison for 20 years. 

CHICAGO (AP) — A former Democratic leader in the Illinois House was sentenced Wednesday to nearly five years in prison for his role in a bribery scheme.

Luis Arroyo was handed a 57-month sentence by U.S. District Judge Steven Seeger after pleading guilty in November to a wire fraud count alleging he tried to bribe a state senator to help with promoting legislation.

A criminal complaint alleged Arroyo gave a $2,500 bribe to a sitting state senator who had been cooperating with federal investigators. The senator was not named in the complaint.

The bribe was part of a scam that involved popular but technically illegal "sweepstakes" games and involved the state senator and the son-in-law of a once-powerful Cook County politician.

Arroyo was charged with bribery in October 2019 after federal prosecutors announced he had paid a $2,500 bribe to the senator who was wearing a recording device. Arroyo resigned the next month from the House seat he had held for nearly 13 years.

A follow-up indictment filed last year added wire and mail fraud charges against Arroyo and lodged similar charges against James T. Weiss, the son-in-law of former Cook County Democratic leader Joseph Berrios.

Weiss allegedly began paying Arroyo bribes in November 2018 in exchange for the lawmakers' support of legislation favorable to sweepstakes machines, a specialty of Weiss' company. Not technically gambling instruments, they proliferate even though state regulators had declared them illegal.

Needing an ally in the Senate, Arroyo approached a then-veteran member of that chamber who was cooperating with the FBI for leniency in a false tax return investigation. The senator recorded a meeting with Arroyo in which the two agreed to $2,500-per-month in kickbacks for the senator's complicity.

Citing anonymous sources, the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune identified the senator as Democrat Terry Link of Vernon Hills, who repeatedly denied the label. But Link pleaded guilty in September 2020 to filing a false tax return before resigning his post. The FBI announced Link had been cooperating with the government criminal investigation and prosecutors indicated they would seek probation if his help continued in good faith.

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