Ex-top aide to Madigan kept the former House speaker’s lawyer informed about meeting with FBI agents, prosecutors say

Details about the case against Timothy Mapes were revealed in a 65-page document filed by prosecutors early Tuesday morning, four weeks ahead of Mapes’ trial on perjury and attempted obstruction of justice charges.

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Timothy Mapes, former chief of staff for ex-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, listens to lawmakers debate at the Capitol in Springfield, Ill.

Timothy Mapes, former chief of staff for ex-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Seth Perlman/AP file

Michael Madigan’s former chief of staff reached out to a defense attorney for the then-powerful Illinois House speaker after he was approached by FBI agents in early 2019, then he called a longtime Madigan confidant and said he was “reporting in,” prosecutors say.

While the feds do not argue those actions by Timothy Mapes were unlawful, they do say it demonstrates “his loyalty” to Madigan and Michael McClain, “and his intentional effort to withhold information” from a federal grand jury in March 2021.

That and other details about the case against Mapes were revealed in a 65-page document filed by prosecutors early Tuesday morning, four weeks ahead of Mapes’ trial on perjury and attempted obstruction of justice charges.

The trial is the latest set to play out this year at Chicago’s federal courthouse as a result of the feds’ public corruption investigations.

Prosecutors also revealed that Madigan expressed concern as early as May 2018 “that someone was recording his conversations.” It apparently came amid discussions regarding the transfer of a property in Chinatown that would later become part of the racketeering indictment against Madigan.

Then-Chicago Ald. Danny Solis was indeed recording Madigan and others for the feds at that time. But Solis’ role as a government mole would not be revealed by the Chicago Sun-Times for another eight months.

The new filing from prosecutors also indicates that Mapes’ trial will feature testimony from state Rep. Robert “Bob” Rita, former state Rep. Lou Lang and former Madigan aide Will Cousineau. All three testified during the trial earlier this year of McClain and three others with ties to ComEd who were convicted of a conspiracy to bribe Madigan.

Mapes served for decades as Madigan’s chief of staff until he was ousted in June 2018 amid a string of damning harassment allegations. Those allegations could play a limited role in Mapes’ trial, as they serve as the backdrop to many secretly recorded conversations the feds want to play for jurors.

Mapes told a grand jury in March 2021 that he did not recall being told if McClain did any work for Madigan between 2017 and 2019. But prosecutors contend the “close relationship” between Mapes and McClain, as well as their “consistent communications,” show that “Mapes could not have forgotten the critical role McClain played in Madigan’s political operation.”

Mapes’ lawyers have previously said the FBI tried to convince Mapes to work as a “confidential witness” during a meeting in Springfield in February 2019. They said Mapes “politely declined.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Schwartz wrote in Tuesday’s filing that Mapes was approached by FBI agents based in central Illinois on Jan. 24, 2019, “as part of an unrelated investigation.” She wrote that Mapes told grand jurors he may have shared a memo he prepared about the encounter with Sheldon Zenner, a former federal prosecutor and criminal defense attorney representing Madigan.

He allegedly testified that he did so “for informational purposes,” and because Zenner had once worked as a prosecutor.

In a secretly recorded phone call on Feb. 15, 2019, Mapes then told McClain about his conversation with Zenner. Mapes said he told Zenner “it was a request” that Mapes give Zenner the memo, Schwartz wrote.

Mapes allegedly told McClain that Zenner thought the visit from the FBI was “a little unusual … But he does, he has a same view that it’s being precipitated by what’s going in, on in” northern Illinois, where the Madigan investigation was based.

“Mapes’ reaction that it may have something to do with the Northern District of Illinois shows that he and McClain were circling the wagons and comparing notes as it related to the federal investigation in this district,” Schwartz wrote. “This is relevant as to Mapes’ motive for lying in the grand jury; it shows Mapes’ loyalty to Madigan and interest in keeping Madigan’s attorneys apprised of his contacts with law enforcement.”

At the end of the call, Mapes allegedly told McClain, “I’m just reporting in.”

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