Illinois' ex-House speaker charged with racketeering

CHICAGO (AP) — Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, for decades one of the nation's most powerful state legislators, has been charged with racketeering and bribery.

Charging documents unsealed Wednesday accuse the 79-year-old Chicago Democrat of 22 counts of leading a criminal enterprise whose purpose was to enhance the political power and financial well-being of Madigan and his allies.

Madigan becomes the most prominent politician swept up in a series of raids and indictments targeting Illinois Democrats.

Until earlier this year, Madigan was the longest-serving state House speaker in modern American history.

He was nicknamed the "Velvet Hammer" for his insistence on strict party discipline.

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