Patrick Daley Thompson’s Federal Case Goes to Jury

Chicago Ald Lawyers. Patrick Daley Thompson told jurors on Monday that the tax evasion case against him was an “act of desperation” to convict their client, the only longtime member of Chicago’s Daley dynasty to be indicted by the federal government.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys made their final appeals in their closing remarks before a 12-member jury on the sixth day of the trial. Thompson’s fate is now in the hands of his peers – who began deliberating on Monday afternoon.

Thompson is charged with seven counts of filing false tax returns and then lying about it regarding $219,000 in loans he received from a now closed bank in Bridgeport. Prosecutors accuse him of claiming deductions on his tax returns even though he was not making payments on loans he took out, then knowingly lying to a collection agency and federal authorities on the amount of money he owed in an attempt to pay less.

His lawyers argued that discrepancies on tax returns are due solely to sloppy bookkeeping and oversights, and that Thompson overlooked two additional loans he took out when he reported what he thought he owed. His defense team spent the week painting Thompson as a busy public servant serving his constituents, paying no heed to tax returns.

“He’s not a man who lies, steals and cheats,” lead defense attorney Chris Gair said in closing argument. “Sir. Thompson’s character…fatally undermines the government’s case.

“I implore you, I implore you, I ask you… send Mr. Thompson back to his family, to his job, to help his constituents who live in the city of Chicago,” Gair concluded.

Asst. U.S. attorney Michelle Peterson spent the week and began her closing argument by challenging the idea that Thompson was too disorganized or too busy to pay attention to his taxes, and instead told jurors he was plotting and plotting to pocket about $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. “Or if he got caught he could pretend he didn’t know, and that was somebody 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 handle the fine print.”

Thompson did not testify or speak publicly about the trial, other than a statement he released after the indictment asserting his innocence.

Thompson is one of three sitting aldermen currently facing federal indictment, including two of the council’s most senior 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, 35 Chicago aldermen have been convicted, according to University of Illinois at Chicago historian and former Chicago alderman Dick Simpson. Thompson is the first sitting councilman to stand trial in more than 20 years.

If found guilty, Thompson would have to resign from his seat and would again be barred from running for public office, according to Illinois law. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot would appoint her replacement, which would require council approval, to serve out the remainder of her term, which ends in 2023.

The mayor and council would have 60 days after a guilty verdict to name that person.

Regardless of the outcome of his lawsuit, Thompson faces threats to his council seat on multiple fronts.

This is in part due to the painstaking and combative redistricting process underway at City Hall – where aldermen remap the city’s electoral districts to ensure all 50 wards are of equal size amid a changing population .

Under two duel proposals, Thompson’s ward would change significantly, with both sides – the council’s Latino and Black caucuses – agreeing to its 11th ward being revamped to include a majority of Asian American voters . Thompson opposes this change.

Mariah Woelfel covers Chicago city government at WBEZ. You can follow her @MariahWoelfel.