Saying the sentencing of former Chicago Ald. Edward Vrdolyak to probation for fraud involved "egregious error," the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday reversed the judge who made the controversial decision and took the case away from him.
A three-judge panel voted 2-1 to reverse the sentence handed down last February by U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur, a development that could mean Vrdolyak, 71, winds up serving a prison sentence for his role in a rigged Gold Coast real estate deal.
Federal prosecutors had sought a sentence of three-and-a-half years in prison for Vrdolyak, who pleaded guilty to taking part in a scheme to secretly split a $1.5 million finder’s fee when Rosalind Franklin University sold a building. Corrupt political insider Stuart Levine was on the school’s real estate committee and conspired with Vrdolyak to steer the sale to a developer that would pay the hidden fee.
The panel’s decision didn’t come as a surprise after influential Judge Richard Posner at oral argument last month signaled he had serious issues with Vrdolyak’s sentence of five years’ probation. At the time, Posner even asked the prosecution if it wanted a different judge to re-sentence Vrdolyak, saying, "You’re not going to get anywhere with Judge Shadur, because he’s made up his mind."
Friday’s sharply worded opinion, written by Posner, took Shadur to task for what were described as mistakes and suggested Vrdolyak’s sentence was too lenient.
Years ago, I shared a classroom with Ed Vrdolyak’s son at the University of Notre Dame. I never got to know the young lad — he was my age — but I remember the day the lad told the professor, Samuel Shapiro, his name, and I remember Dr. Shapiro’s reaction.
He was shocked. And probably changed his lecture on the spot.
It would appear that Dad, "Fast-Eddie" Vrdolyak, may be facing some prison time.
I’ll be watching this one closely.