UPDATED: Jury convicts Madigan’s longtime chief of staff on perjury, obstruction of justice charges

UPDATED: Jury convicts Madigan’s longtime chief of staff on perjury, obstruction of justice charges

By HANNAH MEISEL

Capitol News Illinois
hmeisel@capitolnewsillinois.com

CHICAGO – A federal jury has convicted the once-top aide to former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, finding Tim Mapes guilty on charges of perjury and attempted obstruction of justice for lying to a grand jury investigating Madigan and his inner circle.

The jury of six men and six women reached its verdict in a little more than five hours. Mapes, who spent more than 25 years as Madigan’s chief of staff, sat stone-faced between his attorneys at the defense table while Judge John Kness read the verdict Thursday afternoon.

As the basis for the perjury charge, prosecutors alleged Mapes lied in response to seven questions in front of the grand jury and cited his answers to 14 questions for the obstruction of justice charge. Though the feds only had to prove Mapes lied in one of his answers for each charge, the jury concluded he’d lied in all of them. The obstruction of justice charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Judge Kness set Mapes’ sentencing date for Jan. 10, 2024. Quickly afterward, Mapes exited the Dirksen Federal Courthouse flanked by his lawyers and his older son, who had been in the courtroom each day of trial. Members of the jury also declined to speak with reporters as they left the courthouse in small groups Thursday afternoon.

In a statement late Thursday afternoon, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Morris Pasqual said Mapes’ conviction “should stand as a clear message to witnesses” who are called to appear in front of a grand jury.

In the nearly three weeks of trial, the jury heard the entire two-plus hour recording of Mapes’ March 2021 grand jury testimony – proceedings normally kept totally secret. They also listened to hours of wiretapped calls that seemed to contradict what Mapes said in front of the grand jury.

About six weeks before his grand jury testimony, Mapes sat for an FBI interview in February 2021. During the trial, prosecutors hinted at the fact that Mapes ended the interview after agents broached the subject of Madigan and his close confidant Mike McClain. The FBI was interested in whether McClain, a longtime influential lobbyist in Springfield with whom Mapes also shared a friendship, acted as an “agent” of Madigan.

Shortly after Mapes’ FBI interview, he was subpoenaed for testimony in front of the grand jury, but roughly 10 days later, asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. In response, prosecutors requested the court put Mapes under an immunity order, meaning that in exchange for his truthful testimony, Mapes couldn’t be charged in the investigation.

However, the immunity order also meant that if Mapes lied while under oath, he could be charged. It was under those circumstances that Mapes entered the grand jury room in late March of 2021, where during those two hours of testimony, he was reminded three times of the stakes of lying under oath.

“For whatever reason in his heart and his mind, (Mapes) chose loyalty over the truth,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane MacArthur said during closing arguments Wednesday.

Prosecutors used evidence and witnesses to establish for the jury an image of Mapes as both extremely meticulous and detail-oriented and extremely loyal to Madigan – both things Mapes was known for during his decades in Springfield.

In addition to serving as Madigan’s chief of staff, Mapes also worked for 20 years as executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois under Madigan’s chairmanship, and for the last seven years of his career, he was clerk of the Illinois House, keeping legislative session days moving in the manner the speaker wanted.

But all that came to an end on June 6, 2018, when Mapes was forced to resign from all three of his roles after being publicly accused of sexual harassment and bullying.

Mapes’ attorney, Andrew Porter, sought to poke holes in the government’s theory of motive during his closing arguments.

“Three years after (his forced resignation), why would Tim Mapes – who’s been immunized – why would he fall on the sword for a guy who kicked him to the curb three years before?” Porter asked the jury.

Sherri Garrett, the former Illinois House Clerk’s Office employee who accused Mapes of harassment in 2018, issued a post-verdict statement saying she hoped others who experienced the same “toxic work environment” under Mapes “feel some relief today, as I know I do.”

“My experience speaking out about the sexual harassment I endured in 2018 was painful – and more painful was knowing that there were countless others like me who were too afraid of Mr. Mapes to come forward and speak their own truths,” she said in the statement.

The trial also revealed the ways in which Madigan’s inner circle – including Mapes and McClain – strategized around sexual harassment allegations that rocked the speaker’s world earlier in 2018, at the height of the #MeToo movement. In February of that year, Alaina Hampton, a campaign operative in Madigan’s political organization, publicly accused the speaker of not doing enough in response to her complaints that a married colleague had for months been sending her unwanted text messages and making advances. After a nearly two-year legal battle, Hampton settled with Madigan’s political organization in late 2019.

“I have always said that my experience was the symptom of a toxic culture, and that it started at the top,” Hampton said in a statement. “Tim Mapes was as close to the top as it gets.”

Republicans, who have for years painted Madigan as corrupt and too powerful, used Thursday’s verdict to call on Democrats to enact various laws under the umbrella of “ethics reform.”

State Senate GOP Leader John Curran, R-Downers Grove, said in a statement he’d like to give local state’s attorneys “the same investigative tools that Federal Authorities possess.” A spokesperson clarified Curran wants state’s attorneys to be able to utilize wiretap authority with judicial oversight for public corruption investigations. Additionally, Curran supports allowing the Illinois Attorney General to convene a statewide grand jury to investigate public corruption. Various states have given those powers to their attorneys general and local prosecutors.

House Minority Leader Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, called on Madigan’s successor, House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, to act on ethics-related bills proposed by GOP members this spring.

“It would be appalling if Speaker Welch did not move forward legislation House Republicans have filed to address ethics and instill public trust in our government,” McCombie said.

Welch’s office fired back in its own statement, citing the leadership changes made under his speakership in the last two and a half years, and pointing to ethics-related laws passed by the General Assembly in 2021 and this spring.

“Speaker Welch has always said he believes in due process, and a guilty verdict is a signal the law is working,” Welch spokesperson Jaclyn Driscoll said. “However, if the minority leader has any ideas on how to strengthen federal perjury laws, we’re all ears.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Schwartz said during her closing arguments that Mapes had the opportunity to be a “star witness” in the government’s cases against Madigan and McClain. But Mapes’ attorneys balked at that assertion, casting the specific questions and answers for which Mapes was indicted as having to do with benign subjects that were “immaterial” to the grand jury’s criminal investigation.

At the time of Mapes’ grand jury interview, McClain had already been indicted on bribery charges for his role in a purported yearslong scheme involving his biggest and longest-running client, electric utility Commonwealth Edison. In May, McClain – along with two other ex-ComEd lobbyists and the utility’s former CEO – were convicted for their roles in a purported bribery scheme, through which Madigan allies were given jobs and contracts with ComEd in exchange for favorable legislation in Springfield.

And even without Mapes’ cooperation, the feds managed to hit Madigan and McClain with bribery and racketeering charges last year. The March 2022 indictment – which was followed up by a smaller superseding indictment in October – alleges the two were instrumental in creating and running a criminal “enterprise” with Madigan in the center, benefitting from his positions of power in politics, state government and even his partnership in a real estate law firm. That trial is scheduled for April 2024.

This story has been updated to include public reaction and more information from the trial.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of print and broadcast outlets statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

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