Chicago Alderman Patrick Daley Thompson found guilty on all counts in federal tax fraud trial
CHICAGO - A jury has convicted soon-to-be-former Chicago Alderman Patrick Daley Thompson on all counts, including tax fraud and lying to investigators.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot is promising to be "transparent" in appointing an interim replacement for Thompson in the City Council.
Friends and family of Thompson tried to shield him from cameras and reporters Monday after a federal jury returned one of the quickest verdicts in memory. After deliberating for less than four hours, including lunch, they found Thompson guilty of cheating the Internal Revenue Service and of lying to regulators investigating the failure of a South Side bank.
The feds said Thompson owed more than $200,000 to the Bridgeport neighborhood's Washington Federal Bank for Savings. But in a recording played for the jury, Thompson claimed to owe a lot less.
"The numbers you sent me shows that I have a loan for $269,000? I borrowed a hundred thousand dollars," Thompson could be heard saying in the recording.
Prosecutors told the jury, "this case is not about the amount" the government allegedly lost, but about Thompson’s "outrageous conduct," especially what the feds describe as Thompson’s lies to investigators trying to collect more than $200,000 that Thompson borrowed from a federally-insured bank that went bust.
The defense asserts Thompson simply forgot how much he had borrowed and that he eventually resolved that debt.
PATRICK DALEY THOMPSON TRIAL: ALDERMAN ‘SAW AN OPPORTUNITY TO LIE (AND) HE TOOK IT’, PROSECUTORS SAY
While Thompson did not testify at his trial, his attorney argued Thompson was, "frazzled," a "great strategic thinker" who often neglected details, because of the demands of his City Council job, his zoning law practice and his role as a, "soccer dad."
Prosecutors ridiculed that defense claim. Assistant US Attorney Brian Netols mockingly told the jury Thompson was trying to avoid accountability, declaring, "I suppose the voters are at fault" for electing him alderman.
"Objection!" shouted the lead defense lawyer. "Sustained," ruled the judge, finding that argument inappropriate.
In closing arguments Monday, Thompson's lawyer labeled key prosecution witnesses as "big liars."
"This is an honest man," Thompson’s lawyer declared.
While Thompson said nothing after the verdict, defense lawyer Chris Gair told reporters he was "disappointed in the jury's verdict" and in the U.S. attorney's decision to prosecute the case.
Thompson had previous tax disputes with the IRS, as well. In 2013, he paid more than $11,000 in back real estate property taxes after the Better Government Association revealed he was getting an improper tax break on rental property.
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Once Thompson’s felony conviction is formally recorded, state law strips him of his City Council seat. Mayor Lightfoot released a statement Monday night saying this week she'll outline, "an open and transparent process to fill the vacancy with a qualified public servant."
Thompson's sentencing is set for July 6 at 10 a.m. He could get a sentence of probation all the way up to the max of 30 years in federal prison.