Lightfoot promises transparency in replacing convicted Chicago alderman
CHICAGO - Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot promises to be "transparent" in appointing an interim city council replacement for Patrick Daley Thompson.
Jurors convicted Thompson Monday on all seven federal felony counts he faced, including tax fraud and lying to investigators probing the financial collapse of a Bridgeport neighborhood bank. The jury deliberated barely three hours, which included time for lunch.
State law requires Thompson to resign once the felony verdict is formalized.
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"Alderman Patrick Thompson has been judged by a jury of his peers and found guilty. This week, we will be outlining an open and transparent process to fill the vacancy with a qualified public servant that represents the values of the residents of the 11th Ward and the City of Chicago," Lightfoot, a former assistant U.S. attorney, wrote.
Thompson declined to comment as he departed the Dirksen Federal Building surrounded by friends and family. Several moved aggressively to shield Thompson, bumping and shoving cameras and reporters.
Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson listens during the Cook County Democratic Committee slating meeting, Dec. 14, 2021, at IBEW Local 134. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images / Getty Images)
Thompson’s defense attorney, Chris Gair, said he was disappointed in the jury’s verdict. Gair said he was also disappointed that the government chose to prosecute the case.
U.S. Attorney John Lausch told Fox 32 News immediately after the verdict that prosecutors would have no public comment on their courtroom victory. A half-dozen members of the prosecution team were seen exiting the Dirksen Federal Building together minutes after court adjourned.
During the trial, 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 (sic) that I have a loan for $269,000? I borrowed a hundred thousand dollars," Thompson claimed.
Thompson did not testify at his trial. His attorney argued Thompson was not trying to cheat anyone, but was often confused about "details." Gair said Thompson was a "great strategic thinker" but was "frazzled" because his life was too busy. Gair cited the demands of Thompson’s city council job, his private zoning law practice and his role as a "soccer dad."
"This case is full of reasonable doubt," Gair declared Monday in his closing argument, citing the legal standard required for a conviction: "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
The jury clearly disagreed, given the unusually quick verdict on all counts.
Thompson had a series previous tax disputes dating back a dozen years. The IRS threatened to put liens on his property to collect unpaid taxes. And in 2013, Thompson paid more than $11,000 in back real estate property taxes after revelations by the better government association. The BGA reported Thompson claimed an illegal homestead exemption on rental property.
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At least one candidate to replace Thompson surfaced immediately after the verdict.
"A successor will be hand-picked by his uncle John Daley and Mayor Lori Lightfoot. They will do everything they can to make sure that our seat on city council represents the elites at city hall and not the working people of the 11th Ward like you and me," wrote teacher Ambria Taylor.
The 11th Ward is the ancestral political turf of the Daley family, including Chicago’s two longest-serving mayors, Richard J. Daley and his son, Richard M. Daley. Thompson is their grandson and nephew, respectively.
But that ward, long dominated by the Bridgeport and Canaryville neighborhoods, may disappear by next year’s aldermanic election. Two pending remap proposals radically redraw boundaries, to make Asians the ward’s largest ethnic group.
Ald. Gil Villegas (36th Ward), chairman of the city council’s Latino caucus, wrote that Mayor Lightfoot "should immediately appoint…an Asian-American…to fill the 11th Ward vacancy."
Thompson will be sentenced on July 6. He faces up to 30 years in prison for lying to investigators and up to three years for tax fraud.