Ald. Howard Brookins’ disgraced former chief of staff claims he wore a recording device to help federal authorities “ensnare” the City Council member — but the feds “ultimately blew the investigation.”
Curtis V. Thompson Jr. revealed the extent of his cooperation with the government on the eve of his Wednesday sentencing in a document filed by his attorney that identified Brookins as “the initial target of the investigation” that ultimately led to Thompson pleading guilty at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in December for taking a $7,500 bribe.
The 63-year-old South Sider also compared himself to former state Rep. Derrick Smith, who just last month caught a big break in federal court. U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman sentenced Smith in April to only five months in prison for accepting a $7,000 bribe roughly a year after taking office.
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But federal prosecutors — who tried to send Smith to prison for nearly five years — want Thompson locked up for 15 months.
“Since his arrest and public humiliation due to press coverage of this and other related cases, Curtis’s life has been torn apart,” attorney William P. Murphy wrote in the court filing on Thompson’s behalf. “Curtis simply hopes that all the good he has done for the communities within the city, and all the good he has done for members of his community will not be forgotten.”
While some names in the document are redacted — including Brookins’ — that text was still visible when lifted digitally from the record. It explains that Thompson signed a cooperation agreement with federal authorities dated Feb. 27, 2014.
“Mr. Thompson not only proffered with the government,” Murphy wrote, “he wore a recording device in an attempt to ensnare Alderman Brookins, who was the initial target of the investigation. . . .”
Brookins, who won re-election in an April runoff, could not be reached for comment Tuesday night. He has not been criminally charged and has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
Murphy wrote that Thompson “gave the government information regarding how and when the bribes would take place.” But when he was asked to “propose an exchange while wearing the recording device, Mr. Thompson suggested that they wait a few days” until those topics were normally discussed.
“The government along with special agents refused to wait, and ultimately blew the investigation due to their impatience,” Murphy wrote.
Murphy said federal authorities violated their agreement with Thompson by not considering his cooperation when charging him.
“Ultimately, Mr. Thompson was charged to the fullest extent,” Murphy wrote.
Thompson helped a federal informant land Brookins’ essential support for a liquor license in the 21st Ward in 2013. In exchange, the informant handed Thompson 75 $100 bills stuffed into a Christmas card during a party at Brookins’ office, court records show.
The alderman’s aide pocketed the cash — and allegedly said “thank you.”
“I really appreciate you, brother,” Thompson told the informant, according to court records. “I got you back . . . I do all the work with little acknowledgement, so I don’t know how long I’m gonna be around.”
With that, prosecutors said Thompson gave Chicagoans “one more reason to give into the cynicism of a ‘where’s mine?’ political culture.”