Con man’s wife allegedly suggested he ‘twitch . . . like a cat’ to fake bipolar disorder

SHARE Con man’s wife allegedly suggested he ‘twitch . . . like a cat’ to fake bipolar disorder
John Thomas in 2008 | Sun-Times file photo

John Thomas in 2008 | Sun-Times file photo

The feds call John Thomas a “serial con man.”

And after his guilty plea last year to stealing more than $370,000 in tax increment financing money from south suburban Riverdale, he faced as many as 20 years in prison. So prosecutors said he did what he does best — he came up with another con.

This time they said he plotted to fake a bipolar disorder to land a lenient sentence.

Thomas’ wife even coached him over the phone ahead of an evaluation, prosecutors wrote in court documents. They said she gave him advice like:

“Twitch your nose like a cat.”

“Do the sniff thing . . . play with your ear.”

And she allegedly told him, “I would kind of wring my hands and, you know, act like you’re thinking and I would just kind of . . . take deep breaths and like look up in the sky.”

She allegedly gave her husband that advice over the phone while he was at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. It was all caught on tape, and it became the primary topic Tuesday in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge James Zagel as Thomas’ sentencing hearing began.

Thomas’ attorneys —Larry Beaumont and Joseph and Lisa Lopez — put licensed clinical psychologist William Hillman on the stand. Despite the alleged coaching, Hillman said he met with Thomas and concluded the fraudster and former federal mole wasn’t faking.

“I’m certain that he suffers from bipolar disorder,” Hillman said.

He also said Thomas’ real symptoms include an “inflated self-esteem” and “grandiosity.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sunil Harjani told the judge he didn’t dispute the diagnosis itself. Rather, he argued Thomas planned to scam the court.

Thomas’ wife allegedly said in one call that she would send him test questions to review. Thomas allegedly replied, “I just wanna make sure that as I’m answering questions randomly that I have an idea of which way I should be answering them.”

Harjani wants the judge to send Thomas away for nearly five years, records show.

The hearing is set to continue July 8.

Thomas previously dodged prison by serving as a federal informant for nearly a decade after his conviction for a billboard scam in New York in the late 1990s. Prosecutors cut him a break because evidence he provided helped convict politically connected real estate developer Tony Rezko.

He wore a wire to record conversations with Rezko and former Ald. Ike Carothers, his lawyers have said in court documents.

Some of the TIF cash he stole went to pay rent to Raghuveer Nayak, the businessman, felon and alleged “bribe guy” behind an alleged attempt to buy President Barack Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat for Jesse Jackson Jr.

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