AT&T Illinois has agreed to pay a $23 million fine in connection with a criminal investigation. The company admitted to paying $22,500 to a friend of former Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan to influence the passage of legislation beneficial to the company.
In a statement of facts included in a deferred prosecution agreement, AT&T Illinois admitted that in 2017, it arranged for Madigan to indirectly receive payments via his friend. AT&T disguised why the friend was being paid, making it appear that services were being contracted from the friend, but the friend performed no actual work for AT&T, according to the agreement.
The legislation that AT&T attempted to influence, which ultimately became law, is designed to eliminate the company’s responsibility to provide carrier of last resort (COLR) phone service throughout the state.
The $23 million that AT&T will pay will go to the federal Crime Victims Fund.
AT&T also agreed to implement a new compliance and ethics program and to provide annual reports to the government regarding the remediation and implementation of the program.
In an attachment to the deferred prosecution agreement, AT&T said it would “ensure that it maintains an effective system of internal accounting controls designed to ensure the making and keeping of fair and accurate books, records and accounts, as well as policies and procedures designed to effectively detect and deter violations of U.S. law.”
If AT&T fails to fulfill its obligations under the two-year term of the agreement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office can initiate prosecution of the charged offense, the Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois explained in a press release about the AT&T Illinois investigation.
The alleged AT&T shenanigans likely were not an isolated incident on Madigan’s part. Madigan, who resigned as a state representative in 2021 after decades in office, was indicted on federal racketeering charges earlier this year.