ComEd pleads not guilty in alleged influence-peddling scheme

By MICHAEL TARM AP Legal Affairs Writer
CHICAGO (AP) — Energy utility ComEd has pleaded not guilty to bribery at an arraignment despite previously admitting wrongdoing in an influence-peddling scheme that threatens to ensnare Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. The plea during a Wednesday hearing was largely a formality under a deferred prosecution agreement unsealed last month and doesn’t mean that ComEd is now saying it did nothing wrong. The agreement requires that ComEd admit wrongdoing, pay a $200 million fine and cooperate with investigators. Prosecutors said they didn’t think ComEd needed to enter a plea now, But U.S. District Judge John Kness in Chicago said arraignments must include a plea.