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Jury reaches verdict in perjury trial of ex-top aide to Madigan

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A verdict has been reached in the perjury trial of Michael Madigan’s longtime chief of staff, Tim Mapes.

As of 2:20 p.m., attorneys in the case were gathering in a courtroom in the Dirksen Federal Building for the verdict to be announced.

Federal prosecutors say Mapes lied on multiple occasions when he appeared before a grand jury on March 31, 2021. They say he did so in a corrupt attempt to block an aggressive criminal investigation of Madigan, Illinois’ once-powerful former House speaker.

The seven queries at issue in his perjury count all revolved around work done for Madigan by another Springfield insider, Michael McClain. Mapes was also charged with attempted obstruction of justice.

Madigan and McClain face trial next year on racketeering conspiracy charges. McClain was also convicted at trial earlier this year in a separate case, along with three others, for conspiring to bribe Madigan to benefit ComEd. 

Meanwhile, Mapes has become the seventh person to face a jury verdict this year as a result of the feds’ public corruption investigations in Chicago. Prosecutors called 14 witnesses across eight days of testimony to make their case that Mapes lied to the grand jury. 

Defense attorneys argued that Mapeseither didn’t know the answers to specific questions posed to him in the grand jury, or he couldn’t remember them. They called four of their own witnesses on the last day of testimony Tuesday: Mapes’ wife, Bronwyn Rains; human memory expert Dawn McBride; private investigator David Hodapp; and former Democratic Party of Illinois staffer Emily Wurth.

Mapes’ trial lasted three weeks in all. The prosecution witnesses included three current or former elected officials: state Rep. Robert “Bob” Rita, former state Rep. Greg Harris and former state Rep. Lou Lang.

Rita told jurors he couldn’t think of anyone closer to Madigan than McClain or Mapes. That supported testimony from retired FBI Special Agent Brendan O’Leary, who supervised much of the Madigan investigation. 

O’Leary told jurors Madigan was “different from any other politician I’ve seen.”

“No cellphone, no emails, no texts,” O’Leary said of Madigan. “He relied on his tight inner circle.”

And that was why investigators were so interested to hear what Mapes had to tell the grand jury, O’Leary explained.

Madigan forced Mapes to resign as chief of staff in June 2018 over bullying and harassment claims. But the feds offered evidence that Mapes kept track of the burgeoning investigation into his former boss. The probe went public in 2019. 

That evidence seemed designed to undermine the notion that Mapes could have been caught off guard by questions in the grand jury. 

Jurors heard that, when sexual harassment complaints against a top Madigan political aide rocked his organization in 2018, McClain sent a fiery email laying out a plan to save the speaker. McClain wrote 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.

Finally, prosecutors used a monthslong wiretap of McClain’s phone to undermine various bits of testimony Mapes gave to the grand jury. For example, Mapes testified that McClain would not have given him insight into McClain’s dealings with Madigan, but jurors heard multiple recordings in which McClain did exactly that.

Mapes is also accused in the attempted obstruction of justice count of testifying falsely about not knowing whether McClain communicated with Lang at Madigan’s direction. 

Jurors heard a recording of McClain telling Mapes in 2018 that he had an “assignment” from Madigan to tell Lang it was time to resign from office over a brewing allegation. 

McClain and Mapes discussed that “assignment” multiple times, including once when Mapes asked McClain, “Will you be wearing your big boy pants that day?”

When it was the defense’s turn, Wurth supported the notion that people with direct access to Madigan, like Mapes once had, didn’t necessarily trust McClain’s claims that he did work and passed messages for Madigan. They referred to that notion as Springfield “folklore.”

When asked whether she was “aware of whether Mr. McClain did any tasks or assignments for Mr. Madigan,” Wurth told jurors, “I don’t remember that he did tasks or assignments for the speaker.”

During closing arguments, defense attorney Andrew Porter repeatedly told jurors that the grand jury’s investigation was all about the allegations that were central to McClain’s earlier trial revolving around ComEd. Mapes was not heard discussing them in wiretaps played in Mapes’ trial.

But the grand jury’s investigation of Madigan went well beyond the ComEd allegations. And when Porter finished his argument, Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane MacArthur quickly made that clear.

“This man knew this was a broad-based investigation,” MacArthur said, pointing toward Mapes.



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