Jury takes 5 hours to convict Madigan’s ex-top aide of perjury, attempted obstruction of justice: ‘This should stand as a clear message’

Tim Mapes, the former chief of staff to onetime Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, is the seventh person to be convicted by a federal jury in Chicago this year as a result of public corruption investigations.

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Tim Mapes Dirksen Federal Building Chicago Illinois

Tim Mapes, former chief of staff for Michael Madigan, leaves the Dirksen Federal Building after he was found guilty of perjury and attempted obstruction of justice Thursday.

Anthony Vazquez | Sun-Times

Tim Mapes once seemed free and clear, even as the FBI drew its net around his former boss and his longtime colleagues in Springfield.

Months after the indictment of four people with ties to onetime Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, Mapes found himself sitting before a federal grand jury. He had an immunity order, meaning he couldn’t be prosecuted for what he said — as long as he told the truth.

But Mapes decided to lie that day in March 2021. 

That’s what a jury decided Thursday after five hours of deliberations at the end of a trial that lasted three weeks featuring 18 witnesses and several FBI wiretap recordings. In fact, they said Mapes lied a lot: on seven specific occasions, regarding 14 different topics.

Tim Mapes Chicago Illinois

Tim Mapes, former chief of staff for Michael Madigan, ventures into Thursday’s heatwave after a federal jury in Chicago found him guilty of perjury and attempted obstruction of justice.

Ashlee Rezin | Sun-Times

The verdict made Mapes, Madigan’s former chief of staff, the seventh person to be convicted by a federal jury in Chicago this year as a result of federal public corruption investigations. Jurors in those cases have yet to side against the feds in a single count.

Mapes is also the second of two close lieutenants of Madigan, a Southwest Side Democrat, to find himself facing serious prison time.

It all gives prosecutors momentum as they prepare for trials with even higher profile defendants in the coming months, including former Chicago Ald. Edward M. Burke and Madigan himself.

Mapes swallowed hard just before U.S. District Judge John Kness began to read the verdict in his courtroom on the 21st floor of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. Mapes showed no further reaction when he learned he’d been convicted of perjury and attempted obstruction of justice. Afterward, he appeared to briefly take out his phone.

Mapes and his attorneys then left the courtroom, ducked into an elevator, made their way through the courthouse lobby without commenting, and rushed into Chicago’s 100-degree heat. He was met on South Dearborn Street by a swarm of news photographers who followed him onto West Jackson Boulevard.

The temperatures outside may cool off, but Mapes could feel the heat for months to come. His sentencing is set for Jan. 10, and he faces a maximum sentence of 25 years. Also set to be sentenced that month are four former political insiders who were convicted in May of conspiring to bribe Madigan

Among them are Michael McClain, a prominent figure in Mapes’ trial. McClain faces another trial in April with Madigan in a separate case in which both men are charged with a racketeering conspiracy.

Jurors also left the courthouse without commenting Thursday. A spokesman for Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the verdict against Mapes “advances the cause of cleaning up state government and sends a message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated in Illinois.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Morris Pasqual, in a written statement, said “this conviction should stand as a clear message to witnesses who choose to violate their oath to tell the truth before a grand jury that they will be held accountable.”

The verdict also drew reactions from women who helped shake Madigan’s grip on power in 2018, the #MeToo year that became the backdrop for Mapes’ trial. Among them was Alaina Hampton, who leveled sexual harassment complaints against a top Madigan political aide that year.

Hampton told the Chicago Sun-Times that “it’s always a positive day to see accountability with powerful people.” She said she was grateful that “the rest of the state is able to see what I’ve seen all along.”

Mapes did not face trial for the #MeToo allegations leveled against him and others in 2018. Rather, prosecutors alleged in the perjury count that he lied repeatedly to a grand jury on March 31, 2021, about work done for Madigan by McClain. 

Those lies may have put Mapes in the hot seat, but prosecutors set out to prove their case with secret FBI recordings of McClain’s phone calls, which largely took place in 2018. So jurors wound up getting a behind-the-scenes look at how Madigan’s team handled the fallout from claims made by Hampton and others.

Alaina Hampton

Alaina Hampton speaks during a news conference outlining her complaints against a longtime aide to then-Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan in 2018.

Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times,

Mapes’ defense attorneys, Andrew Porter and Katie Hill, insisted that Mapes either didn’t know the answers to the questions he was asked before the grand jury, or didn’t remember them. But the wiretap recordings repeatedly undermined their claims.

The prosecutors’ case included testimony from three current or former elected officials: state Rep. Robert “Bob” Rita, former state Rep. Greg Harris and former state Rep. Lou Lang.

Rita told jurors he couldn’t think of anyone closer to Madigan than McClain or Mapes. In doing so, he complemented the testimony of retired FBI Special Agent Brendan O’Leary, who supervised much of the Madigan investigation. 

O’Leary told jurors Madigan was “different from any other politician I’ve seen,” and he even compared Madigan to the “head of a mafia family.”

“No cellphone, no emails, no texts,” O’Leary said of Madigan. “He relied on his tight inner circle.” 

And that was why he said investigators were so interested to hear what Mapes would say to a grand jury. 

The feds also laid out evidence that Mapes kept track of the burgeoning investigation into Madigan, which went overt in 2019. The evidence seemed designed to undermine the notion that Mapes could have been caught off guard by questions in the grand jury.

Inside that grand jury room, Mapes was asked if he had “any knowledge” about whether McClain did tasks or assignments for Madigan between 2017 and 2018. Mapes said, “I don’t recall any.”

But jurors learned that, when Hampton’s sexual harassment complaints rocked Madigan’s organization in 2018, McClain sent a fiery email message laying out a plan to save the speaker. McClain wrote it was time to “play hardball and quit doing this nicey/nicey stuff,” and he suggested pitching scandalous stories to “over worked, underpayed” news reporters.

Mapes was among the message’s recipients.

Not only that, but McClain told Mapes late in 2018 that he had an “assignment” from Madigan to tell Lang it was time for him to resign from office over a brewing allegation. McClain and Mapes discussed that “assignment” multiple times on calls heard by jurors, including once when Mapes asked McClain, “will you be wearing your big boy pants that day?”

Nevertheless, when a prosecutor asked Mapes inside the grand jury room whether he knew McClain to have had “any contact” with Lang “for any purpose,” Mapes insisted, “I don’t know of any.”

Matthew Hendrickson, Mitchell Armentrout, Dave McKinney contributed

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