Jury begins deliberations in perjury trial of ex-top aide to Madigan after feds hammer at ‘brazen’ and ‘preposterous’ lies

Tim Mapes, longtime chief of staff to one of Illinois’ most powerful politicians, listened as a federal prosecutor accused him of flaunting his oath to tell the truth, committing crimes and choosing “Team Madigan” as a grand jury closed in on his old boss.

SHARE Jury begins deliberations in perjury trial of ex-top aide to Madigan after feds hammer at ‘brazen’ and ‘preposterous’ lies
Tim Mapes chief of staff Illinois Speaker Michael Madigan

Tim Mapes, former chief of staff for Michael Madigan, leaves the Dirksen Federal Court Building.

Anthony Vazquez / Sun-Times

The longtime chief of staff to one of Illinois’ most powerful politicians listened in a federal courtroom Wednesday as a prosecutor accused him of flaunting his oath to tell the truth, committing crimes and choosing “Team Madigan” as a grand jury closed in on his old boss.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane MacArthur at times turned and pointed toward Tim Mapes in the middle of a courtroom as she set out to shred his defense to perjury and attempted obstruction of justice charges at the end of a long day of arguments.

The veteran prosecutor told jurors in a dramatic high-energy closing that “this is the man who was loyal, who does not give any ground, who refused to give any insight or light into the world close to Michael Madigan or Michael McClain.”

And in a reference to a sign once found in Mapes’ office, MacArthur told the jury that “for this man, no one gets in to see the wizard on his watch.”

Defense attorney Andrew Porter had just spoken for two hours, telling jurors that Mapes “didn’t do this” and asking jurors to let Mapes get on with his life.

MacArthur responded by telling the jury “the life that Mr. Mapes chose for himself was the one that he put on the table on March 31, 2021,” the day he allegedly lied to the grand jury.

A trial jury of six men and six women then retired to deliberate the charges against Mapes around 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday. However, they soon sent a note asking U.S. District Judge John Kness if they could head home for the day.

They are expected to resume deliberations Thursday morning.

Mapes served for two decades as chief of staff to Madigan, Illinois’ once-powerful former House speaker, until Madigan forced Mapes to resign in June 2018 over bullying and harassment claims. Then, as a federal investigation closed in on Madigan, Mapes found himself before a grand jury with an immunity order in March 2021.

Prosecutors allege he lied on seven specific occasions that day about work done for Madigan by McClain, another Springfield insider. They also say he testified falsely about several additional topics.

McClain was convicted along with three others earlier this year for a conspiracy to bribe Madigan to benefit ComEd. He also faces trial in April with Madigan in a separate case in which both are charged with a racketeering conspiracy. Madigan was not indicted until March 2022.

Closing arguments in Mapes’ case began Wednesday with his trial nearing the end of its third week. Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Schwartz spoke first, insisting that Mapes chose to tell “brazen” and “preposterous” lies rather than becoming a “star witness” in the feds’ probe.

Schwartz listed several reasons jurors could be confident Mapes lied about McClain’s work. Among them were his motive and the events that led up to Mapes’ appearance before the grand jury.

The prosecutor pointed out that news of the feds’ Madigan investigation broke Jan. 29, 2019. That was the day the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Madigan had been secretly recorded in 2014 along with then-Chicago Ald. Danny Solis, who later went on to become a government mole.

The FBI then raided the homes of McClain and other Madigan allies in May 2019. Criminal charges were leveled against ComEd, McClain and others in 2020, and Mapes had an interview with law enforcement in February 2021.

Schwartz said it was widely known in Springfield that McClain did work for Madigan. She told the jury that was “Springfield 101 — Madigan 101.” But once inside the grand jury room, Mapes said McClain “wouldn’t” have given him insight into McClain’s dealings with Madigan.

Secret FBI wiretap recordings played during Mapes’ trial repeatedly undermined the claim.

“You have sat through hours of recordings where that did happen,” an exasperated Schwartz told the jury.

When it was Porter’s turn, the defense attorney sought to explain away a comment by Mapes that he always tried to “protect the boss.” Porter pointed to testimony from witnesses that the phrase was used commonly in Madigan’s world, as a reference to the staff’s duty to make sure routine paperwork was in order so Madigan didn’t find himself in any legal trouble.

Porter said comments from McClain, on wiretaps or otherwise, hardly amounted to anyone’s “north star.” Mapes’ defense attorneys have insisted that Mapes had direct access to Madigan and didn’t buy the Springfield “folklore” that McClain often did work or carried messages for Madigan.

Porter dismissed one McClain comment to Mapes about an “assignment” that dealt with property in Chinatown as 12 seconds of a 17-minute late-night phone call near the busy end of session for the Illinois General Assembly.

He said the grand jury room is intimidating. He said Mapes is accused of lying about things that are not illegal.

And he repeatedly told jurors that the grand jury’s investigation was all about the allegations central to McClain’s earlier trial revolving around ComEd. Mapes was not heard discussing them in the wiretaps played in the current trial.

“What you didn’t hear in two hours of argument this morning was anything about the government’s criminal investigation of ComEd,” Porter added, referencing Schwartz’s presentation.

But the grand jury’s investigation of Madigan went well beyond the ComEd allegations. When Porter finished his argument, MacArthur quickly made that clear to the jury. She did so after telling the judge she would not need a break before starting the trial’s final comments.

“Is this case only about ComEd?” MacArthur asked moments after Porter sat down. “… It is not. It is not. … The grand jury investigation was not limited to ComEd.”

MacArthur pointed to Mapes and said, “This man knew this was a broad-based investigation.” She said there had been a “drumbeat of information” for Mapes ahead of his grand jury testimony, including the February 2021 interview, which amounted to “neon lights flashing in front of Tim Mapes’ face” to make clear what the feds wanted to know.

The prosecutor reminded the jury that Mapes once stood regularly at the front of the Illinois House of Representatives, where he would have to take control of more than 100 Democrats and Republicans and make his voice heard, suggesting he wouldn’t have been intimidated by the grand jury room.

She told jurors that the grand jury process — including a sworn oath by a witness to tell the truth — “matters.”

“The truth matters,” she said. “Mr. Mapes committed two crimes when he ignored that oath.”

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