Surging COVID-19 cases fueled by the omicron variant will not delay the trial of Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th Ward) on seven charges that he lied to federal bank regulators and filed false tax returns, a judge ruled Friday.
Daley Thompson’s trial is set to start Feb. 4, and will last no more than eight days under a fast-paced trial schedule outlined Friday by U.S. District Judge Franklin Valderrama. Daley Thompson, 52, pleaded not guilty in May to all of the charges.
Members of the public and the news media will not be allowed inside the courtroom as part of an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, Valderrama said. All witnesses and lawyers must remain masked unless they are speaking and tell the judge under oath that they are fully vaccinated and received a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according the judge's ruling.
All participants in the trial, including the jury, will have to be tested regularly for COVID-19, Valderrama said.
In series of rulings, Valderrama said he would allow Daley Thompson’s attorneys to admit evidence that Daley Thompson filed amended tax returns in April 2019, acknowledging that his assertion that he paid interest on a loan he obtained from the now-defunct Washington Federal Bank for Savings in Bridgeport and was entitled to a deduction on five years of federal income taxes was incorrect.
In an April 2021 indictment, federal prosecutors claimed that Daley Thompson knew that he made just one payment on the $219,000 loan but then stopped making payments, and he failed to pay interest on the funds he received.
Daley Thompson’s attorneys argued during a hearing that took place on Monday that the alderperson, who is also an attorney with the firm of Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, acted to amend his tax returns before he was interviewed by federal agents probing the failure of the bank.
That question brought new attention to a decade-old ruling in a criminal case against ex-Cook County Commissioner William Beavers. The judge in that case refused to allow Beavers’ attorneys to introduce evidence that he filed amended tax returns after he’d been approached by federal agents. That ruling was upheld on appeal.
In his only public statement on the criminal charges he is facing, Daley Thompson said he made “inadvertent tax preparation errors” and blamed his “incorrect memory about the amount of a personal bank loan.”
In a separate ruling, Valderrama blocked Daley Thompson’s attorneys from making any arguments centered on the intelligence of the alderperson who is the grandson of former Mayor Richard J. Daley, and the nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley and Cook County Commissioner John Daley.
However, Valderrama said he would rule during the trial on whether Daley Thompson’s attorneys can make arguments about his “attention span,” “poor memory and “disorganization.”
In addition, Valderrama said he would rule during the trial on whether Daley Thompson’s attorney can present evidence of Daley Thompson’s record of public service.
Eleven other people, including several high-ranking former bank employees, have already been charged as part of the ongoing federal criminal investigation into the failure of Washington Federal.
Most recently, William Mahon, a former top official with the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation, was charged with willfully filing false tax returns as part of the federal probe into the bank’s collapse, which was first revealed by the Chicago Sun-Times in a series of reports beginning in 2019.
However, Valderrama ruled that the jury in Daley Thompson’s cases will not hear arguments about the larger probe.
Daley Thompson is one of three sitting members of the Chicago City Council to be charged with federal crimes.
Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward) has pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of corruption, and has been awaiting trial since his indictment in May 2019. Ald. Carrie Austin (34th Ward) was indicted on charges of bribery and lying to federal agents in August, and has also pleaded not guilty.