Feds seek delay in Daley Thompson case to sift through new documents

In a court filing Saturday, prosecutors claimed newly provided documents “were not disclosed in a timely manner” despite a grand jury subpoena served in December 2018.

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Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson says he opposes removing parts of Canaryville from his 11th ward as part of an effort to create city’s first Asian American ward.

Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th).

Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times file

A month before Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson’s trial is set to begin, federal prosecutors announced in a court filing Saturday that his attorneys only recently submitted a cache of documents that could impact their case.

In the court filing, prosecutors claimed the documents relate to key allegations and “were not disclosed in a timely manner,” though Thompson’s previous attorneys responded to a grand jury subpoena served in December 2018. While prosecutors were still analyzing the new documents, they said it’s clear at least some would have been covered by that subpoena. 

As a result, the prosecution asked to delay the upcoming pretrial deadline to submit their lists of exhibits and witnesses.

Thompson’s attorney Chris Gair filed a scathing response opposing the effort Sunday, claiming that even before the recent disclosures, prosecutors already had “‘virtually all” the documents.

The subpoena Thompson was served sought records related to the preparation of his tax returns, his interactions with financial institutions and Washington Federal Bank for Savings, the clout-heavy Bridgeport bank shut down over what authorities have described as a massive fraud scheme.

A federal indictment unsealed in April accused the 11th Ward alderman of making just one payment to Washington Federal after receiving an $110,000 loan in 2011. It also said he received $109,000 more from the bank in 2013 and 2014, then lied to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. about how much he owed the bank and about how he used the money he received.

Thompson is also accused of having deducted more than $170,000 in mortgage interest from his income taxes for the years 2013 through 2017, including interest payments he never made on the money he owed to Washington Federal.

The grandson and nephew of Chicago’s two longest-serving mayors, Thompson is the only member of the Daley family ever charged with a federal crime. He has pleaded not guilty.

The disclosure of the new documents began Aug. 24, when Thompson’s legal team handed over email communications dealing with the loan at the heart of the indictment, prosecutors said. The emails, sent between May 2018 and October 2018, should have been turned over pursuant to the subpoena, the filing states.

Then, in a Sept. 1 conference with prosecutors, Thompson’s counsel referenced an email from that spring between Thompson and an accountant. After being pressed for a copy, prosecutors said Thompson’s attorneys produced seven email communications the following day that “were completely new to the government” despite being covered by the subpoena. 

The emails all dealt with preparing Thompson’s 2017 tax return and are “directly relevant” to his knowledge of its contents, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said one of the emails “includes a communication from the accountant to the defendant about the very item on the tax return that the indictment alleges is false: the mortgage interest deduction.” It will “almost certainly be a government trial exhibit,” prosecutors added.

Thompson’s legal team then shared more documents Saturday, prosecutors said. His attorneys first submitted over 500 pages of records consisting of communications between Thompson and an accountant, some of which prosecutors said relate to the preparation of the 2017 tax returns.

Later Saturday, prosecutors said Thompson’s attorneys produced a set of 760 emails, totaling over an estimated 2,000 pages, which included communications with accountants, financial institutions and the FDIC. The 500 pages produced earlier that day were included.

The emails between Thompson and his accountant could lead to “additional follow-up investigative steps,” prosecutors added, including more subpoenas or witness interviews.

Prosecutors insisted the delayed responses to the subpoena “impair both the government’s ability to file a complete exhibit and witness list, and to file a comprehensive and factually accurate set of pretrial motions.” Thus, they asked the judge to extend the underlying filing deadline by one week — from Wednesday to Sept. 15. 

Gair pushed back hard on that request in a court filing Sunday.

“The government’s request to delay the pretrial disclosures — based on the discovery of a handful of emails that the government says it did not have until recently — is misleading and, ultimately, pretextual,” he wrote. “Underlying this motion is the government’s apparent desire to delay the trial itself.”

Gair claimed “only a tiny number of responsive emails may not have been produced to the grand jury,” describing the seven email communications provided Sept. 2 as “inconsequential.”

He called the motion to delay the deadline “an inexplicable overreaction” and said the government’s existing list of exhibits is “already wildly excessive” and contains evidence “both irrelevant or otherwise inadmissible and not incriminating.”

“When the government indicted Mr. Thompson, it should have been ready to try its case,” Gair said. “Five months later, it obviously still is not ready and is seeking to delay the proceedings.”

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