State Sen. Terry Link charged with federal income tax evasion

Longtime state Sen. Terry Link was charged Thursday with a federal count of income tax evasion — the third Democratic state senator to face felony charges in a little more than a year.

The one-page criminal information filed in U.S. District Court accused Link, of Vernon Hills, of failing to report income on his 2016 tax return to the IRS.

Defendants are typically charged via an information if they intend to eventually plead guilty.

Link, 73, a Democrat who has served in the senate since 1997 and rose to assistant majority leader, could not immediately be reached for comment. He is one of four state senators who serves on the Legislative Ethics Commission.

The Chicago Tribune reported last year that Link wore a wire for the FBI in a bribery investigation of his colleague, then-state Rep. Luis Arroyo.

Federal prosecutors alleged Arroyo had sought an unnamed state senator’s support on legislation involving video gambling sweepstakes games that would benefit one of Arroyo’s lobbying clients.

The state senator was wearing a wire for the FBI when Arroyo delivered the first of the promised $2,500 checks at a restaurant in Skokie in August 2019.

“This is, this is the jackpot,” the complaint quoted Arroyo as telling the senator — identified as Cooperating Witness 1 — as he handed over the check.

Additional $2,500 payments were expected to be made over the next six to 12 months, federal authorities alleged.

The complaint against Arroyo revealed that the unnamed state senator first began cooperating with the FBI in 2016 but was terminated as a confidential source after it was revealed he had filed false income tax returns.

The senator later agreed to cooperate with the FBI again in the hopes of winning a break at sentencing on expected tax fraud charges, according to the complaint.

The Chicago Tribune has previously identified the state senator as Link, though he has repeatedly denied being the cooperating witness mentioned in the complaint.

“Anybody can tell you anything,” Link told a Tribune reporter on the day Arroyo was charged.

Also involved in Arroyo’s alleged scheme was businessman James Weiss, the son-in-law of former Cook County assessor and county Democratic Party boss Joseph Berrios, whose house was raided by the FBI shortly before the charges against Arroyo were unsealed, the Tribune has reported.

In addition, Weiss’ business partner, John Adreani, opened V.S.S. Inc., a sweepstakes machine company that hired Arroyo as a lobbyist, after his firing as a Chicago police officer for consorting with a drug trafficker, the Tribune reported.

Arroyo has pleaded not guilty, and his case is pending.

Neither Weiss nor Adreani has been charged.

The charge against Link marked the latest in a series of wide-ranging investigations against Illinois political leaders.

Last year, Link’s colleague, state Sen. Thomas Cullerton, was charged in an alleged ghost payroll scheme involving the Teamsters union. Cullerton has pleaded not guilty.

In September, another then-state senator, Martin Sandoval, was accused of taking bribes from a representative of a red-light camera company to act as the company’s “protector” in Springfield. Sandoval pleaded guilty earlier this year and is cooperating.

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