Chicago Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson was found guilty Monday of filing false tax returns and lying to the federal authorities, becoming the first member of Chicago’s long-standing Daley dynasty to be federally convicted of a crime.
The jury deliberated for just over three hours before returning the verdict Monday. Thompson sat still in the courtroom as the verdict was being read. His family could be heard crying from a so-called overflow room down the hall.
His lead attorney, Chris Gair, did not immediately say whether they will appeal the verdict.
“I’m extremely disappointed in the verdict,” Gair said in the lobby of the federal courthouse Monday evening. “It was wrong. And I’m extremely disappointed in the United States Attorney’s Office for bringing this prosecution and for the things it said in the closing argument.”
Thompson will be sentenced at a later date. He left court flanked by his wife, daughters and other supporters and did not comment on the verdict.
Thompson was charged with seven counts of filing false tax returns and then lying about it in relation to $219,000 in loans he received from a now-shuttered bank in Bridgeport. Prosecutors accused him of filing for deductions on his tax returns even though he was not making payments on the loans he took out, and then knowingly lying to a collection agency and federal authorities about the amount of money he owed in an attempt to pay less.
His attorneys had argued that discrepancies on the tax returns are due solely to sloppy bookkeeping and forgetfulness, and that Thompson overlooked two additional loans he took out when stating what he thought he owed. His defense team spent the week painting Thompson as a public servant who is busy serving his constituents, not paying attention to tax filings.
“He’s not a man who goes about lying and stealing and cheating,” said lead defense attorney Chris Gair, in his closing argument. “Mr. Thompson’s character … fatally undermines the government’s case.”
“I implore you, I beg you, I ask you … send Mr. Thompson back to his family, to his job, to helping his constituents who live in the city of Chicago,” Gair concluded.
Asst. U.S. Attorney Michelle Peterson spent the week and started her closing argument by disputing the idea that Thompson was too disorganized or busy to pay attention to his taxes, and instead told jurors he schemed and plotted to pocket around $15,000 over five years.
“The defendant, Patrick Thompson, lied. He lied to his accountants, he lied to the IRS, he lied to Planet Home Lending, he lied to the FDIC … and his lies follow a pattern,” Peterson said. “Where if he ever got caught, he could pretend he didn’t know, and it was someone else’s problem. … He pretended to be surprised. … He pretended to be confused.”
“He went to college, he went to law school, he’s been a lawyer for a long time,” she said. “He’s sophisticated and he can deal in the fine print.”
Thompson did not testify and hasn’t spoken publicly about the trial, other than a statement he released after the indictment maintaining his innocence.
Thompson is one of three current sitting aldermen under federal indictment, including two of the council’s longest-serving members, Carrie Austin and Ed Burke, who are indicted on unrelated charges. Thompson is the grandson of former mayor Richard J. Daley and his uncle was former mayor Richard M. Daley.
Since 1969, 36 Chicago aldermen or former aldermen have been convicted of a crime, according to University of Illinois at Chicago historian and former Chicago alderman Dick Simpson. Thompson is the 37th.
Thompson will need to resign his seat and will be banned from running for public office again, according to Illinois law. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot would appoint his replacement, which would require council approval, to carry out the rest of his term, which is up in 2023.
The mayor and council have 60 days to appoint that person. On Monday evening, she promised in a statement a “transparent process” to fill the seat.
“Alderman Patrick Thompson has been judged by a jury of his peers and found guilty,” she said in the statement. “This week, we will be outlining an open and transparent process to fill the vacancy with a qualified public servant that represents the values of the residents of the 11th Ward and the City of Chicago.”
Regardless of the outcome of his trial, Thompson was facing threats to his council seat on multiple fronts.
That’s in part due to the drawn out and combative redistricting process underway at City Hall — where aldermen remap the city’s voting districts to ensure all 50 wards are equal in size amid a changing population.
Under two dueling proposals, Thompson’s ward would change significantly, with both sides — the council’s Latino and Black caucuses — in agreement that his 11th Ward will be recrafted to include a majority of Asian American voters. Thompson opposed that change.
The story has been updated to correct the number of aldermen who have been previously convicted.
Mariah Woelfel covers Chicago city government at WBEZ. You can follow her @MariahWoelfel.