Lawyers for ex-Chicago Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson asked Monday for a sentence of probation on his conviction on counts of tax evasion and lying to banking regulators, saying he’s already suffered “tremendous public humiliation” and lost his law license and seat on the City Council.
Thompson, 52, the grandson and nephew of Chicago’s two longest-serving mayors, was convicted by a federal jury in February of two counts of lying to federal regulators about loans he had with the now-shuttered Washington Federal Bank for Savings in his family’s Bridgeport neighborhood.
The jury also found Thompson guilty on five counts of filing false tax returns that illegally claimed mortgage interest deductions that he never paid.
In a series of court filings Monday, Thompson’s attorneys said prison time is not warranted for the former alderman, who already has “suffered tremendous public humiliation as a result of his conviction.”
“He has had to give up his law license and his position in public service,” attorney Chris Gair wrote in one filing. “He has lost his job and his career. He has lost most of his life-savings defending himself.”
Gair also argued that Thompson’s crimes were a relative drop in the bucket when compared with other tax cases brought in Chicago’s federal court. In fact, Gair said, the indictment against Thompson alleged one of the smallest loss amounts to the Internal Revenue Service of any case brought in the past two decades.
More than 130 people wrote letters to the court in support of Thompson, including at least two of his former colleagues on the City Council, 10th Ward Ald. Susan Garza and Ald. Nicholas Sposato of the 38th Ward.
“I found Patrick to be a hard-working legislator devoted to his 11th Ward community, and interested in debating different viewpoints carefully to make informed decisions,” Garza wrote, according to Gair’s filing.
Thompson’s lawyers also object to the government calling his crimes “serious,” writing that the only justification for that label was that Thompson held elective office.
“Mr. Thompson’s position as an alderman has nothing at all to do with the severity of the offenses because they did not in any way, shape, or form involve his public office,” defense attorney Chris Gair wrote. “(The) offenses of which he was convicted were wholly private.”
U.S. District Judge Franklin Valderrama is scheduled to sentence Thompson on July 6. Prosecutors’ pre-sentencing filing had not yet appeared on the public docket Monday evening.
The jury’s verdict after a weeklong trial in February marked the first time a member of the Daley family has ever been convicted of a federal crime, a prospect that would have been unthinkable to many when the family was at its zenith, controlling not only the fifth floor of City Hall but also wielding influence over state and national politics, including the White House.
Under state law, Thompson, who represented the 11th Ward since 2015, was forced to resign his seat on the City Council immediately after the conviction on felony charges. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has since appointed Nicole Lee to fill the post for the rest of Thompson’s term.
The charges against Thompson were an offshoot of a larger investigation into the collapse of Washington Federal, which uncovered a massive embezzlement scheme leading to charges against more than a dozen former bank officers, employees and customers.
At Thompson’s trial, Gair had sought to pin the blame on the bank and its former president, John Gembara, saying Thompson had nothing to do with generating the erroneous tax forms that wound up on his returns. Gembara was found hanged in the home of a customer days before the bank was shuttered, and his death was ruled a suicide.
The defense team has also portrayed Thompson as an honest but “frazzled” man, constantly torn between his duties as alderman, commercial real estate lawyer and father, and admittedly lacking when it came to focusing on the minutiae of his taxes.
Gair also told jurors that the U.S. attorney’s office was bent on finally nailing a Daley.
Prosecutors, however, said Thompson, an accomplished commercial real estate attorney, knew exactly what he was doing when he tried to hide the full $269,000 in principal and interest he owed from regulators in the wake of Washington Federal’s collapse.
After receivers for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. confronted Thompson with evidence that he’d taken advances of $20,000 and $89,000 from Washington Federal in 2013 and 2014, the alderman feigned surprised, according to prosecutors.