‘The Defendant Always Tries to Defend the Boss’: Opening Statements Underway in Perjury Trial of Ex-Madigan Chief of Staff Tim Mapes

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When Tim Mapes, Michael Madigan’s right hand man, allegedly lied to a federal grand jury in 2021, he did so in order to protect “the boss” and thwart an investigation into a bribery scheme being carried out by his “close friends,” prosecutors said in court Wednesday.

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Opening statements began Wednesday morning in Mapes’ perjury trial at the Dirksen Federal Building downtown. Mapes has been indicted on a pair of charges: making false declarations before a grand jury and attempted obstruction of justice, both stemming from his alleged false testimony before a grand jury about Madigan’s relationship with longtime confidant Michael McClain.

“When the defendant answered those questions, the defendant lied,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane MacArthur told jurors Wednesday, “not just once, but again and again and again to prevent the grand jury from finding out what Madigan had done and what Madigan had done through him.”

MacArthur said Mapes spent his entire professional career working for Madigan — whom she repeatedly referred to as “the boss” — describing him as the former speaker’s “right hand man, the gatekeeper, the person who kept the trains running on time.”

Federal prosecutors have said a grand jury in 2021 was investigating the former speaker’s “efforts to accept and solicit bribes,” as well as his connections to McClain and their “participation together in bribe-related activity.”

About a week before he testified, Chief Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer entered an order granting immunity to Mapes, meaning no testimony or evidence he offered to the grand jury could be used against him as long as he told the truth under oath.

But prosecutors claim he violated the terms of that agreement on March 31, 2021, when he allegedly lied to the grand jury about work McClain had performed for Madigan between 2017 and 2019.

In one instance, Mapes was asked if McClain had given him “any insight into what his interactions” with Madigan were “that you weren’t privy to personally?” He allegedly replied: “No, that wouldn’t — that wouldn’t happen.”

He also claimed McClain hadn’t told him “what he was discussing with (Madigan) or anything that he was doing on behalf of (Madigan)” and said he didn’t recall “any sort of tasks or assignments” McClain would have performed for Madigan from 2017 to 2018.

“The defendant always tries to defend the boss and the solid group around him,” MacArthur said.

Prosecutors plan to present phone calls recorded through a federal wiretap on McClain’s phone that they said will show McClain discussed the tasks and assignments he was carrying out for Madigan.

According to MacArthur, Mapes was aware when he testified that McClain’s phone calls had been recorded, but he didn’t know what specific calls had been taped.

Mapes’ defense team argued the prosecutors’ burden isn’t to prove that McClain was working on Madigan’s behalf, but rather what Mapes actually knew and what he remembered when he testified under oath.

Defense attorney Kathleen Hill likened the grand jury questioning to someone being quizzed about their years-old high school experience before going into a high school reunion.

“If you get any of those questions wrong, you can’t go to your reunion,” she said. “Now imagine this: If you get any of those questions wrong … you’re going to be charged with a felony.”

According to Hill, Mapes did his “level best” to inform the grand jury about his relationships with Madigan and McClain. She claimed he was only charged because in seven questions out of some 500 he was asked, Mapes gave “answers the government did not like.”

“Tim Mapes did not lie in the grand jury,” Hill said. “He did not attempt to obstruct justice.”

McClain was convicted earlier this year as part of the “ComEd Four” case, in which he and three other former Commonwealth Edison officials and executives were found guilty of conspiring to bribe Madigan. He is set to be sentenced in early 2024 before he goes on trial again, this time in a racketeering case, alongside Madigan next April.

Mapes was ousted as Madigan’s top aide and as the executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois in 2018 following allegations by a state employee who accused Mapes of making sexually inappropriate remarks and bullying and harassing her in the workplace.

Jurors on Wednesday were informed that Madigan had asked for Mapes’ resignation, but the details of his ouster were not disclosed in court.

According to prosecutors, Mapes faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on the obstruction charge and up to five years on the false declaration charge.

Prior to opening statements Wednesday, the 12-person jury was officially sworn in Wednesday morning following two days of juror selection this week.

Judge John Kness provided additional instructions to a juror who works as a meteorologist for a local television news station. The juror was told to avoid any work discussions or emails involving this case and to report to the court any information he does inadvertently overhear regarding the trial while at work.

Kness on Wednesday also ruled that a recorded conversation between McClain and Illinois state Rep. Bob Rita — in which McClain told Rita that he wanted to “check with Mapes” and provided further instructions to Rita, saying “I’d give it to Mapes first” — would be admitted as evidence.

Prosecutors argued this conversation is relevant because it showed McClain was “not at all secretive about his dealings” with Madigan. Kness agreed that McClain’s state of mind is relevant to the case, though he ruled a second recording between McClain and Illinois state Rep. Greg Harris would not be admitted.

Harris was the prosecution’s first witness called Wednesday, testifying about basic Springfield politics and legislative processes. He identified Mapes in the courtroom and said Mapes and Madigan “seemed to work together very well” during various legislative meetings.

The trial is scheduled to last three weeks, with witness testimony beginning Wednesday.

Contact Matt Masterson: @ByMattMasterson[email protected] | (773) 509-5431

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