Patrick Daley Thompson’s sentencing Wednesday could see member of Daley dynasty face prison

“Everything we have worked for our entire lives has been depleted — financially, reputationally and even what we thought were solid friendships,” Thompson’s wife, Katie, wrote to the judge.

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Then-Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th) attends a Chicago City Council meeting in June 2021.

Then-Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th) attends a Chicago City Council meeting in June 2021.

Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times

The list of disgraced politicians to seek mercy in Chicago’s federal courthouse is a long and sad one — full of governors, Chicago City Council members, state lawmakers and even judges.

But never before has that list included a member of the city’s most storied political dynasty, the Daley family.

That will change Wednesday when former Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson is due to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Franklin Valderrama at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.

A jury convicted Thompson in February of cheating on his taxes and lying to federal regulators.

He’s the grandson of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley and a nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, who recently spent about five days in the hospital.

Thompson’s lawyers say he’s been humiliated and punished enough with the loss of his law license and his 11th Ward City Council seat and should get probation.

Prosecutors, who have secured prison sentences for five Chicago-area politicians so far this year, say Thompson has yet to truly accept responsibility for his crimes and say Thompson should get two years in prison.

“He simply thought he could get away with paying less than what he owed, and was willing to lie to accomplish that goal,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Petersen wrote in a court memo last month.

The decision rests with Valderrama, who must consider the severity of Thompson’s crime, the need to deter Thompson and others and Thompson’s history. That last point already has helped open a rare public window into the extended Daley family, as members of Thompson’s family have written letters to the judge asking for leniency.

“Everything we have worked for our entire lives has been depleted — financially, reputationally, and even what we thought were solid friendships,” Thompson’s wife, Katie, wrote in her letter. “Every belief and promise we ever made has been shaken to the core.”

Former Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson leaves the Dirksen Federal Courthouse on Feb. 14 after being found guilty of lying to federal regulators and cheating on his tax returns for five years.

Former Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson walks with family members and supporters from the Dirksen Federal Courthouse on Feb. 14 after being found guilty of lying to federal regulators and cheating on his tax returns for five years.

Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times

Another grandson of the late Mayor Daley, Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko, pleaded guilty eight years ago to involuntary manslaughter, admitting he threw the punch that caused David Koschman’s death in 2004. But that was in state court, where a judge ordered Vanecko to spend two months in jail.

Now, Thompson must return Wednesday to Chicago’s imposing federal courthouse in the Loop. News cameras will surely be waiting for him. Then, he’ll make his way to the ceremonial courtroom on the 25th floor, where Valderrama has said the hearing will take place.

Thompson did not testify during his trial, but he will have an opportunity to speak to the judge before he is sentenced.

While Thompson is not accused of directly using his public office to commit his crime, it will surely come up in arguments Wednesday. Federal judges have been voicing frustration with public corruption lately, with one recently declaring that people who make laws have “a particular responsibility to comply with those laws.”

Prosecutors have also pointed to Thompson’s role as a lawyer and officer of the court — significant because it meant he knew “the importance of candor when dealing with financial institutions,” they say.

Thompson’s conviction revolved around $219,000 he received between 2011 and 2014 from Washington Federal Bank for Savings in Bridgeport. The bank was shut down in December 2017 amid allegations of massive fraud, days after its president was found dead in a bank customer’s $1 million home.

Thompson made one $389.58 payment on the loan in February 2012 but paid no interest, according to the feds. He joined the board of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago in 2012 and the City Council in 2015.

After Washington Federal failed in 2017, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. handed Thompson’s loan over to Planet Home Lending.

Thompson falsely claimed mortgage-interest deductions for interest purportedly paid to Washington Federal on his tax returns for the years 2013 through 2017. Thompson also lied in early 2018 to a Planet Home Lending customer service representative and two FDIC contractors about how much he borrowed.

He settled with the FDIC for $219,000 in December 2018, records show. He also filed amended tax returns and attempted to pay the taxes he owed, but the returns and payments for 2013, 2014 and 2015 were rejected for being too old, an IRS agent testified.

Prosecutors have described Thompson’s relationship with Washington Federal as “irregular and cozy.” Thompson defense attorney Chris Gair insists that Thompson obtained his loan from the bank in 2011 “before he served in any public office.”

But the feds say they could “discern no reasons” for his preferential treatment “other than his status in the community and his role as an elected official.”

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