For decades, “Fast Eddie” Vrdolyak has been a controversial Chicago political powerhouse. Known for being a key figure in the Council Wars as one of the “three Eddies” who led a coalition of white aldermen intent on blocking Mayor Harold Washington’s initiatives, he already went to prison in 2008 for bribery.
Now, Vrdolyak, 83, is once again heading to prison on charges of tax evasion stemming from fraudulent legal fees charged to the City of Chicago in the 1990s.
In the Chicago Sun-Times, Mark Brown wrote, “Vrdolyak was fast with his quips, fast with his putdowns, fast at figuring out the angles and fast at playing them — always on the lookout for a fast buck.”
It is perhaps only due to Vrdolyak’s meticulous behavior that he has merely been sentenced to prison twice–he has bragged that “I treat everyone as though they’re wearing a wire.”
In this news report from 2000, Carol Marin reports on Vrdolyak’s stint as town counsel to the Chicago suburb of Cicero, when he faced strikingly similar allegations of billing inflated and seemingly fraudulent legal fees, although he was never charged in connection with these events. His close friend, Town President Betty Loren-Maltese, was not so lucky: she was sentenced to prison in 2002 for conspiring to steal $12 million from the town.
For a deep dive into 1980s Chicago politics, check out Bill Stamets’ seminal “Chicago Politics: A Theatre of Power.”
A Media Burn rarity is 1995 footage of Vrdolyak in the studio hosting his short-lived talk radio show on Chicago’s WJJD.