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Beau Brindley is accused of perjury and obstruction of justice. | Sun-Times file photo

Feds: Ambitious lawyer became ‘patient zero’ in perjury scheme

SHARE Feds: Ambitious lawyer became ‘patient zero’ in perjury scheme
SHARE Feds: Ambitious lawyer became ‘patient zero’ in perjury scheme

Beau Brindley’s ambition led him from Iowa to Chicago, where he built a career as a successful criminal defense attorney who fought for his clients with colorful arguments while refusing to cut deals with government lawyers.

But he would eventually become “patient zero” in a years-long conspiracy to parade witnesses into federal courtrooms who lied under oath, a federal prosecutor said Thursday.

“It all starts with Mr. Brindley,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Chmelar told U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber. “Their clients actually committed new federal offenses at the advice of Mr. Brindley and his law firm.”

Dressed in a dark suit with a white shirt and a purple tie and socks, the 37-year-old Brindley appeared to listen intensely as closing arguments in his perjury and obstruction of justice trial began. He rocked in his chair, rolled his eyes, muttered to his attorneys and glanced at the ceiling.

Brindley’s associate, Michael Thompson, is also on trial. Closing arguments lasted all day Thursday, and the judge said he would announce his verdict Monday morning.

Federal prosecutors from Milwaukee are handling the case. They’ve accused both men of coaching witnesses to lie under oath, to give false information to the courts and also to the U.S. attorney’s office. Prosecutors have also said witnesses were given scripted testimony by Brindley’s law firm to memorize.

Brindley’s own defense attorney, Cynthia Giacchetti, called the case against Brindley the “biggest double-standard case I think I have ever seen.” That’s because she said Brindley’s clients changed their stories in the midst of preparing for trial — as they also often do for the U.S. attorney’s office.

“They flip people 180 degrees every day,” Giacchetti said, referring to federal prosecutors.

After a July 2014 raid on Brindley’s office at the historic Monadnock building downtown, the feds said they found four conflicting versions of a direct examination of one of Brindley’s clients.

“Those scripts were nothing but a vehicle to commit fraud on the court,” Chmelar said, telling the judge Brindley changed the direct examinations and “shoved it all back in the meat grinder” to create another.

Brindley took the stand in his own defense this week, telling the judge it was “standard practice” at his law firm to develop question-and-answer forms, or “Q & A’s,” as his associates prepared witnesses for trial. They would be reviewed for accuracy and revised as different associates spoke to the witnesses.

“The only direction I give them is that they have to tell the absolute truth,” Brindley said of his clients.

Giacchetti tried to debunk the notion that the “Q & A’s” are somehow “instruments of the crime.” Noting that heroin dealers flush their drugs down the toilet when they see the cops coming, Giacchetti said Brindley knew he was under investigation, but the “Q & A’s” were still in his offices to find.

“They couldn’t buy a shredder?” Giacchetti said.

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