Ex-Illinois Lawmaker Luis Arroyo Pleads for Probation in Gambling Corruption Trial

Posted on: February 1, 2022, 05:37h. 

Last updated on: February 1, 2022, 06:02h.

Lawyers for former Illinois state Rep. Luis Arroyo are asking for clemency for their client, who has pleaded guilty to bribery charges related to his support of the state’s sweepstakes industry.

Luis Arroyo
Luis Arroyo arriving at the Dirksen Federal Building shortly after his arrest in October 2019. His lawyers say a prison sentence could kill the former Democratic lawmaker. (Santiago Covarrubias/Chicago Sun-Times)

They hope to convince US District Judge Steven C. Seeger to sidestep the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 in favor of probation.

Prosecutors accuse the Democratic lawmaker, 67, of accepting kickbacks from sweepstakes operator James Weiss, and of plotting with Weiss to bribe an unnamed senator for his support.

Weiss wanted to grease the skids on legislation that would have eliminated doubt about the legality of sweepstakes machines in Illinois.

The “unnamed senator” has long been named in the press, including by The Chicago Tribune, as former Democratic state Senator Terry Link.

The Missing Link

Link has since pleaded guilty to tax evasion. He allegedly agreed to wear a wire during conversations with Arroyo in the hope that the courts would cut him some slack.

Prosecutors allege Weiss paid bribes totaling $7,500 to Arroyo via his lobbying firm, Spartacus 3. These were not declared to state regulators.

Arroyo was recorded handing a check for $2,500 to Link, with the promise of similar monthly payments if he agreed to back the sweepstakes legislation. 

Arroyo was arrested in October 2019 and resigned from his position as assistant majority leader in the House of Representatives shortly afterwards. Initially, he denied the charges, but changed his plea to guilty in November 2021. He did not secure a plea bargain with prosecutors.

‘Death Sentence’

Chicago’s PBS station WTTW reports that on Saturday Arroyo’s lawyers argued the potential punishment would not fit the crime, which enriched their client by just $7,500.

They said a prison sentence could “kill” the former lawmaker, and possibly his wife, who is chronically ill.

The defense cited Arroyo’s former good character, which included “extensive charitable work, public service, community work, generosity with his time.”

Describing his life as a “rags to riches story,” they highlighted his difficult childhood in Puerto Rico. This involved him dropping out of high school to help his family, while enduring beatings from an alcoholic father.

Mr. Arroyo is not a bad person; rather he is a good person who made a mistake in judgment,” Arroyo’s attorneys argued, calling his criminal acts “a brief dalliance with corruption, encouraged by another corrupt official working for the government.”

Making an example of Arroyo to combat graft in Illinois politics would be “no more effective than draining Lake Michigan with a spoon,” they concluded.

Arroyo is scheduled to be sentenced February 18.