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Grand jury charges former Madigan chief of staff Tim Mapes with perjury, obstruction of justice

The charges bring the feds closer than ever to Madigan, who has not been criminally charged and denies wrongdoing. It also lifts the curtain slightly on a grand jury drilling deep into Illinois politics.

Tim Mapes, longtime chief of staff to former House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Sun-Times Media

Federal prosecutors leveled another bombshell public corruption indictment Wednesday, charging a longtime lieutenant of former House Speaker Michael Madigan’s with perjury — and lifting the curtain slightly on a grand jury drilling deep into Illinois politics.

Timothy Mapes, 66, served as Madigan’s chief of staff from 1991 until June 2018, when he was ousted amid a string of damning harassment allegations. Now he is charged with perjury and attempted obstruction of justice amid the feds’ ongoing bribery investigation of ComEd.

Mapes also previously served as executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois.

An 11-page indictment filed Wednesday says Mapes received immunity March 24, appeared before the grand jury March 31 and gave false answers. Two pages of excerpts from Mapes’ testimony appear in the document.

The charges bring the feds closer than ever to Madigan, who has not been criminally charged and denies wrongdoing. Mapes’ defense attorneys, Andrew Porter and Katie Hill, released a statement denying that Mapes lied to the grand jury.

“Tim Mapes testified truthfully in the grand jury,” they wrote. “His honest recollections — in response to vague and imprecise questions about events that allegedly took place many years ago — simply do not constitute perjury. This case, of course, is not about him — but about the government’s continued pursuit of his former boss. Tim Mapes has in no way engaged in obstruction of justice, and looks forward to prevailing at trial when all of the facts are aired.”

Mapes’ indictment prompted reaction from Springfield, including on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives. That’s where Deputy Republican Leader Rep. Tom Demmer, of Dixon, said Illinois’ corruption issues are “more than just a few bad apples.”

“I think in most states, even a single indictment would shake a building to its core,” Demmer said. “It would have citizens call and demand for changes to be made. In Illinois, it’s not just a single indictment — it’s happened again and again and again and again.”

A spokeswoman for House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch declined to comment on an “ongoing investigation and one that doesn’t have anything to do with Speaker Welch.” Illinois Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie’s press secretary, Whitney Barnes, said Mapes’ indictment “underscores the desperate need to pass anti-corruption legislation in the next five days.”

Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin added in a statement that, “Today’s indictment of former chief of staff Tim Mapes underscores the criminal enterprise operated under the dome by former Speaker Michael Madigan, also known as Public Official A.”

“Public Official A” is the moniker the feds first gave Madigan last July when they charged ComEd with bribery. It again appeared in November when four members of Madigan’s inner-circle, including longtime confidant Michael McClain, were indicted on bribery charges.

The moniker also appears in Mapes’ indictment. It explains that the grand jury had been investigating a possible scheme to influence Madigan through the awarding of jobs, contracts and money for others.

It also said the grand jury was investigating “efforts by Public Official A” as part of that scheme.

The indictment lays out how, from 2017 until Mapes’ resignation in June 2018, Mapes and McClain would communicate by email and phone about Madigan and other statehouse matters. It alleged Mapes would pass messages back and forth between Madigan and McClain. It also alleged that Mapes and McClain continued to communicate after Mapes quit.

The feds served Mapes with a grand jury subpoena Feb. 12, according to the indictment. More than a month later, on March 24, U.S. District Chief Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer entered an immunity order that prevented Mapes from exercising his right not to incriminate himself and directed Mapes to appear before the grand jury.

Mapes went to the grand jury March 31, the indictment states. There, he was questioned about whether McClain gave him any insight into his interactions with Madigan. Mapes allegedly said, “No, that wouldn’t — that wouldn’t happen.” Mapes also allegedly denied that McClain told him about his work on Madigan’s behalf between 2017 and 2019.

When asked whether he knew McClain performed tasks for Madigan around 2017 or 2018, Mapes allegedly said, “I don’t recall any.” And when asked if McClain acted as an agent for Madigan after McClain’s retirement as a lobbyist in 2016, Mapes allegedly said, “I’m not aware of any. I’m not aware of that activity. Let’s put it that way.” Mapes allegedly gave a similar answer when asked if McClain acted as Madigan’s messenger around 2017 and 2018.

The indictment alleges that Mapes also lied to the grand jury about communications McClain had in 2018 with two state representatives, identified only as “Public Official B” and “Public Official C.” Those public officials were state Reps. Robert Rita and Lou Lang, according to a source. The indictment does not accuse Rita or Lang of wrongdoing.

During his questioning before the grand jury, Mapes was told, “One of the things we were trying to figure out, Mr. Mapes, is whether or not — kind of a key issue for us is whether or not [McClain] acted as an agent for [Madigan] in any respect, including that timeframe. We’re talking about the 2017, 2018, 2019 timeframe. Are you aware of any facts that would help us understand whether or not, in fact, [McClain] acted as an agent or performed work for [Madigan] or took direction from [Madigan] in that timeframe?”

Mapes allegedly replied, “I don’t know who you would go to other than [Madigan] and [McClain]. [Madigan], if he had people do things for him like I did things for him, was — didn’t distribute information freely.”