Ex-Illinois lawmaker pleads guilty to federal tax evasion

CHICAGO (AP) — Former longtime Illinois state Sen. Terry Link pleaded guilty Wednesday to tax evasion in federal court.

The Democrat, who resigned last week, had been in office since 1997. He’s the latest state legislator to be charged in the federal government’s ongoing criminal investigations into public corruption in Illinois.

Link, 73, appeared in federal court before U.S. District Judge Robert Dow via video during a roughly 45-minute hearing.

According to Wednesday's 18-page plea agreement, Link listed his 2016 tax return income as $264,450 when it was at least $358,000. He also admitted to spending more than $73,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses, among other things.

When Dow asked Link's plea on the tax charge, Link said, "Guilty, your honor,” according to The Chicago Tribune.

Link would face up to 16 months in prison, but federal prosecutors said Wednesday that they intend to recommend probation if Link fully cooperates with the government.

A status hearing has been set for March 30.

His plea comes after several other state lawmakers were charged.

Among them was former state Rep. Luis Arroyo, a Chicago Democrat, who pleaded not guilty in February to bribery allegations. He’s accused of paying a bribe to an unnamed state senator in exchange for support of a gambling bill that would have benefited a lobbying client.

He resigned in November, a week after his arrest. In announcing the bribery charge, federal prosecutors revealed that the unnamed state senator had been cooperating with them since 2016.

Link has previously denied to reporters that he was the unnamed state senator. The Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, citing anonymous sources, have identified Link as the unnamed senator.

A phone message left Wednesday for Link wasn’t returned.