Patrick Daley Thompson, the former Chicago City Council member and heir to the city’s most legendary political dynasty, was sentenced Wednesday to four months in federal prison for tax crimes at the end of an hours long hearing that left his family in tears.
Thompson stood in the ceremonial courtroom of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, arms crossed, as U.S. District Judge Franklin Valderrama finished delivering the news. When Thompson’s attorney told the judge Thompson hoped to serve his prison sentence by Christmas, a sob rose up from the courtroom gallery.
But later, in a bizarre scene outside the courthouse in Chicago’s Loop, Thompson walked away from the building with a smile, surrounded by family members with long, somber looks on their faces.
It all capped a stunning, mad-dash of a federal court case that in 14 months cost Thompson his 11th Ward seat on the City Council, his law license and his freedom. It likely ended his political career, and marred not only his reputation, but his famous family’s.
Thompson is the grandson of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley and nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley. His uncle, William Daley, served as chief of staff to President Barack Obama.
“I’ve made mistakes,” Thompson told the judge before he learned his sentence. “Those mistakes have cost me dearly.”
He later left the courthouse without commenting. But his defense attorney, Chris Gair, called Thompson’s prosecution a “grave miscarriage of justice.”
Thompson is at least the sixth Chicago-area politician sentenced to federal prison time this year. He will also be the second member of his family to serve time behind bars in the last decade.
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. That was in state court, where a judge ordered Vanecko to spend two months in jail. Now, Thompson must serve twice as much time for cheating on his taxes and lying to federal regulators.
Valderrama ordered Thompson to report to the Bureau of Prisons by Aug. 22, unless room in a facility opens up sooner. Before Wednesday’s hearing ended, Valderrama told Thompson he realized the sentence “will be difficult” for Thompson and his family. Still, he told Thompson, “I wish you well.”
Thompson must also pay $8,395 in restitution to the IRS, and $50,120 in restitution to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
It’s not unusual for criminal cases to linger for years at Chicago’s federal courthouse. A federal racketeering indictment has hung over the head of Thompson’s onetime City Council colleague, Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th), for more than three years. Ald. Carrie M. Austin (34th) also spent the last year under federal indictment with no resolution in sight.