Tim Mapes, the longtime chief of staff to former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison Monday for lying to a grand jury as investigators began to close in on Madigan.
“I don’t understand why you did what you did,” U.S. District Judge John Kness told Mapes before sentencing. “You were immunized in the grand jury. And all you had to do was go in there and tell the truth … Perhaps this was out of some sense of loyalty. But if that’s the case, your loyalty was gravely misguided.”
Before he learned his sentence, Mapes stood before the judge and said he “never intended to be anything but a public servant and have tried in ways big and small to live my life as a good man.”
“I also recognize that many people in the state of Illinois have lost faith in their government, and that breaks my heart,” Mapes said after taking a sip from a water bottle. “It is contrary to everything I’ve tried to do in my career, and it brings me great sorrow.”
Still, Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Schwartz insisted that Mapes made a choice when he found himself in front of a grand jury three years ago. She said he “chose loyalty to his two friends” — Madigan and his ally, Michael McClain — “over telling the truth.”
“The jury saw that testimony for what it was,” Schwartz said. “Those were lies.”
It was only six years ago that Mapes played the role of gatekeeper to Madigan in Springfield, famously keeping the “trains running on time” for the longest-serving state House speaker in the nation — and one of the most powerful politicians Illinois has known.
Then the #MeToo movement threatened Madigan’s grip on power. Madigan forced Mapes to resign in 2018 amid bullying and harassment allegations. He wound up with a part-time job servicing trucks for UPS, according to his wife’s testimony.
The long-running investigation into Madigan and his organization then became public early in 2019. Mapes was summoned in front of a federal grand jury in 2021, and he was indicted for lying during his testimony two months later.
Now Mapes is a felon, one of nine people convicted amid five trials in 2023 resulting from public corruption investigations. His sentencing is the most notable of that group so far.
Businessman James Weiss is serving a 5 ½-year prison sentence for bribing two state lawmakers. Alex Acevedo, the son of former state Rep. Eddie Acevedo, served a two-month prison sentence for cheating on his taxes. Madigan faces his own trial later this year.
Meanwhile, a jury in August found Mapes guilty of perjury and attempted obstruction of justice, deciding that he lied on seven specific occasions, and regarding 14 different topics.
Federal prosecutors asked the judge to give Mapes as many as five years in prison, arguing that his lies “were calculated to thwart the government’s sprawling investigation of a series of unlawful schemes calculated to corrupt the government of this state at the highest levels.”
They also insisted that Mapes “still refuses to accept responsibility” and “instead blames the government” for not giving him enough information when he appeared before the grand jury.
But Mapes’ attorneys, Andrew Porter and Katie Hill, accused the feds of a “mean-spirited” recommendation that sought to smear the longtime bureaucrat.
“None of it changes the essential facts,” the defense attorneys wrote. “Tim Mapes is a good man who has done enormous good for his state, his co-workers, his family, and his community.”
They’ve also written that Mapes “accepts the jury’s verdict — though he disagrees with it and continues to maintain his innocence.”
Mapes went into the grand jury room in March 2021 with an immunity order, which meant he couldn’t be prosecuted for anything he said, as long as he told the truth. Instead, he lied repeatedly to the grand jury about work done for Madigan by another Madigan ally, Michael McClain.
McClain has since been convicted with three others for a nearly decade-long conspiracy to bribe Madigan to benefit ComEd. McClain also faces trial with Madigan this fall on charges brought in 2022.
The feds laid out evidence that Mapes kept track of the burgeoning investigation into Madigan, which went public early in 2019. The evidence seemed designed to undermine the notion that Mapes could have been caught off-guard by questions in the grand jury room.
Once inside, Mapes was asked if he had “any knowledge” about whether McClain did tasks or assignments for Madigan between 2017 and 2018. Mapes said, “I don’t recall any.”
But jurors at trial learned that, when sexual harassment complaints leveled by political consultant Alaina Hampton against a Madigan aide rocked the speaker’s organization in 2018, McClain sent a fiery email message laying out a plan to save Madigan. McClain wrote that it was time to “play hardball and quit doing this nicey/nicey stuff,” and he suggested pitching scandalous stories to “over worked, underpayed” news reporters.
Mapes was among the recipients of that and another email in which McClain helped handle the fallout from the scandal.
McClain also told Mapes late in 2018 that he had an “assignment” from Madigan to tell then-state Rep. Lou Lang it was time for him to resign from office over a separate allegation. McClain and Mapes discussed that “assignment” multiple times on calls heard by the jury, including once when Mapes asked McClain, “Will you be wearing your big boy pants that day?”
Nevertheless, when a prosecutor asked Mapes inside the grand jury room whether he knew McClain to have had “any contact” with Lang “for any purpose,” Mapes insisted, “I don’t know of any.”