Attorney Beau Brindley didn’t create stories out of thin air and feed them to his clients to help them explain away drug charges in court, his attorney said Monday during opening statements in federal court.
Brindley’s clients are the ones who concocted false stories to get them off the hook, said Brindley’s defense attorney, Cynthia Giachetti.
Brindley did his job, she said. He listened to what they had to say and crafted the most aggressive defense possible.
Giachetti mocked the prosecution’s claim that Brindley’s clients simply told him they were guilty and actually recounted their crimes in detail to Brindley so he could rearrange the truth.
“The government is going to put on people who are admitted perjurers,” Giachetti said, noting that the prosecution offered witnesses hefty reductions in their sentences in exchange for testimony. “They became witnesses in order to help themselves … four of them were desperately sitting in jail cells having exhausted their appeals.”
The 21-count indictment against Brindley includes seven separate cases he handled from September 2008 to June 2013. The feds have accused Brindley of offering false information to the courts and the U.S. Attorney, and of coaching witnesses to lie under oath.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mel Johnson said the government planned to show fabricated question-and-answer transcripts Brindley provided to his clients to memorize and then repeat in court.
Giachetti said question-and-answer scripts are a regular part of trial preparation used by defense attorneys and government attorneys alike. She said that due to limited access to clients in federal custody, defense attorneys will type up question-and-answers segments that they later hand to clients who are in federal custody with the expectation that the client will correct mistakes in the document.
It’s been more than a year since the feds raided Brindley’s offices at the historic Monadnock Building downtown.
U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber is presiding over the bench trial at the Dirksen Federal Building. Brindley’s associate, Michael Thompson is also on trial and, like Brindley, is charged with perjury and obstructing justice.
On Monday, Johnson touched on a 2010 case that prosecutors claim constitutes obstruction of justice.
In that case, Brindley filed a false status report before a federal judge that claimed his client — who was in federal custody on child pornography charges at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in the Loop — was too sick to attend an important sentencing hearing. The paperwork stated the client twice had to leave an interview room a day earlier to vomit. However, an employee at the correctional center later informed the court that this was false. The employee said the room was locked and Brindley’s client could not have simply exited the room to vomit.
Brindley later filed a “Statement of Correction” explaining that he hadn’t thoroughly looked over the initial document which had been put together by Thompson, who unknowingly included mistakes.
“Thompson appeared and fell on the sword,” Johnson said Monday. Defense attorneys chalked the errors up to “miscommunication,” claiming that Thompson drafted the document based on interviews he conducted without taking notes.
Many of the cases revolved around drug offenses.
In one case, Brindley client Alexander Vasquez was arrested after he fled the scene of a one-kilogram cocaine deal in Arlington Heights. Prosecutors said Brindley knew Vasquez was guilty but suggested Vasquez and his cousin commit perjury to avoid a conviction.
Agents found four versions of a direct examination for Vasquez when they searched Brindley’s offices in July 2014. They allegedly described conflicting reasons as to why Vasquez was arrested at a drug deal.
Before his indictment, Brindley already had made a name for himself as a passionate and colorful advocate for hard-up defendants who included mobster Sam Volpendesto and prison-breaker Jose Banks.
Contributing: Jon Seidel