A member of Chicago’s Daley dynasty faces jail time in federal court on Wednesday
The list of disgraced politicians seeking clemency in the Chicago federal courthouse is long and sad — full of governors, city council members, state legislators and even judges.
But never before has this list included a member of the city’s most legendary political dynasty, the Daley family.
That will change on Wednesday when former Chicago Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson is to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Franklin Valderrama at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.
A jury convicted Thompson in February of cheating on his taxes and lying to regulators. He is the grandson of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley and the nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, who recently spent about five days in the hospital.
Thompson’s attorneys say he has been humiliated and punished enough with the loss of his law license and his 11th Ward seat on the Council, so he should be given probation. But the federal government, which has won prison sentences for at least five Chicago-area politicians so far this year, says Thompson has yet to truly accept responsibility for his crimes.
They say Thompson should get two years behind bars.
“He simply thought he could get away with paying less than he had to, and was willing to lie to achieve that goal,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Petersen wrote in a memo last month. .
The decision is up to Valderrama, who must consider the seriousness of Thompson’s crime, the need to deter Thompson and others, and Thompson’s personal history. That last point has already helped open a rare public window into the extended Daley family, as members of Thompson’s family wrote letters to the judge asking for clemency.
“Everything we’ve worked for all our lives has been exhausted – financially, reputationally and even what we thought were strong friendships,” Thompson’s wife, Katie, wrote in her letter. “Every belief and promise we have made has been deeply shaken.”
Another grandson of the late Mayor Daley, Richard J. ‘RJ’ Vanecko, pleaded guilty eight years ago to manslaughter, admitting he threw the punch that killed David Koschman in 2004. But that was in state court, where a judge ordered Vanecko to spend two months in jail.
Now, Thompson is scheduled to return to Chicago’s towering federal courthouse in the Loop on Wednesday. The press cameras will surely be waiting for him. Then he will proceed to the 25th floor courtroom, where Valderrama announced the hearing would take place.
Thompson did not testify at his trial, but he will have the opportunity to speak to the judge before he is sentenced.
Although Thompson is not accused of directly using his public office to commit his crime, that will surely come up in arguments on Wednesday. Federal judges have recently expressed frustration with public corruption, with one recently saying that people who make laws have “a special responsibility to comply with those laws.”
Prosecutors also pointed to Thompson’s role as a lawyer and officer of the court – important because it meant he knew “the importance of candor in dealing with financial institutions”, they say.
Thompson’s sentencing related to the $219,000 he received between 2011 and 2014 from the Washington Federal Bank for Savings in Bridgeport. The bank was closed in December 2017 amid allegations of massive fraud, days after its chairman was found dead in the million-dollar house of a bank client.
Thompson made a payment of $389.58 on the loan in February 2012 but paid no interest, according to the federal government. He joined the board of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago in 2012 and the city council in 2015.
After the failure of Washington Federal in 2017, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. turned over Thompson’s loan to Planet Home Lending.
Thompson falsely claimed mortgage interest deductions for interest allegedly paid to the Washington Federal on his tax returns for the years 2013 through 2017. Thompson also lied in early 2018 to a Planet Home Lending customer service representative and to two FDIC contractors on the amount he borrowed.
He settled with the FDIC for $219,000 in December 2018, records show. He also filed amended tax returns and attempted to pay the taxes he owed, but the returns and payments for 2013, 2014 and 2015 were rejected as too old, an IRS agent testified.
Prosecutors described Thompson’s relationship with the Washington Federal as “irregular and comfortable.” Thompson’s defense attorney, Chris Gair, insists Thompson got his loan from the bank in 2011 “before serving in public office.”
But the Feds say they could “discern no reason” for his preferential treatment “other than his status in the community and his elected role.”