Will Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson testify? Lawyer says he’s ‘leaning against’ it

The final call comes after three days of testimony. Prosecutors laid out their evidence that Thompson lied to regulators about the $219,000 he owed Washington Federal Bank for Savings, and that he knew he improperly claimed mortgage-interest deductions on his tax returns for the years 2013 through 2017.

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Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th) greets and waves to photographers Thursday morning as he walks with family members and supporters into the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.

Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th) greets and waves to photographers Thursday morning as he walks with family members and supporters into the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

A crucial question loomed over Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson as he left the Dirksen Federal Courthouse on Thursday — will he take the stand in his own defense?

Thompson has until sometime Friday to decide. Federal prosecutors appear to have wrapped up their case against the 11th Ward City Council member, though they have not formally rested. Defense attorney Chris Gair said he wants to argue in the morning that certain counts against Thompson should be tossed and then call a handful of witnesses for brief testimony.

As for Thompson, Gair said the defense team is “leaning against” having him testify.

The final call comes after three days of trial testimony. Prosecutors laid out their evidence that Thompson lied to regulators about the $219,000 he owed Washington Federal Bank for Savings, and that he knew he improperly claimed mortgage-interest deductions on his tax returns for the years 2013 through 2017.

The bank gave Thompson a $110,000 loan in November 2011, and additional payments of $20,000 in March 2013 and $89,000 in January 2014, according to Thompson’s indictment. He made one $389.58 payment, in February 2012, but paid no interest.

Regulators shut down Washington Federal in December 2017, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. turned Thompson’s loan over to Planet Home Lending.

Gair has said Thompson forgot about the second and third payments from Washington Federal, totaling $109,000, when he told Planet Home Lending and FDIC contractors in early 2018 that he owed $110,000 to the bank. Planet Home Lending sent him a statement claiming he owed $269,120 in principal, so Thompson called a customer service line.

“I’m very perplexed,” Thompson said on the call played for jurors Thursday. “This is a significantly higher and much more than — remotely of what we were talking about.”

He added later, “And I dispute that.”

Earlier this week, longtime Washington Federal worker Alicia Mandujano testified that Thompson collected all three checks from the bank in its president’s office, including once before business hours. Prosecutors could point to those circumstances to dispute that Thompson forgot about the money.

Gair could also undermine Mandujano’s credibility, though. She pleaded guilty last month to a conspiracy charge in connection with a multimillion-dollar embezzlement scheme at Washington Federal. Her cooperation with the feds could earn her a sentencing break.

Prosecutors will also likely point to loan applications Thompson signed in 2016 listing his Washington Federal loan balance as $249,050. They could also point to an envelope Thompson turned over that had the word “tax” written in large letters in red ink, with the words “Washington Fed” and “$249,049.96” with a “?” scribbled in blue ink nearby.

To prove Thompson knew he improperly claimed mortgage-interest deductions, the feds will likely point to correspondence that showed Thompson engaged with accountants. For example, after accountant Robert Hannigan emailed Thompson in April 2017 so Thompson could review his 2016 returns, Thompson emailed back the same day asking about adjustments for his wife’s use of the house as her office, records show.

Gair has said Thompson was too busy to pay attention to his tax returns. In fact, he’s portrayed the alderman as a frazzled procrastinator. He also got Hannigan to admit his firm made an “oversight” on Thompson’s taxes when it estimated what it thought Thompson would have paid in interest to Washington Federal in 2017 — and then left it in the final return.

Thompson filed amended tax returns in April 2019 for the years 2013 through 2017 and paid the $15,589 at issue, though an Internal Revenue Service agent said the returns and payments for 2013, 2014 and 2015 were rejected for being too old, so Thompson actually paid around $7,200.

The amended tax returns were filed four months after Thompson was visited by federal agents in December 2018. One of them was Jacob Evans, an agent with the FDIC Office of Inspector General. He acknowledged Thursday that Thompson was told Washington Federal was under investigation, but no one said Thompson was under investigation.

Still, a subpoena given to Thompson sought records about his properties, the 11th Ward Regular Democratic Organization and the Friends of Patrick D. Thompson.

Gair used Evans’ testimony to deploy a strategy he’s used throughout the trial — catching a witness in a mistake and then stressing that person didn’t mean to lie. Evans had said Thompson got the subpoena at the end of the interview, when it was actually earlier.

“Human beings, even trained federal investigators with 15 years of experience, can make a mistake of memory,” Gair told him.

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