Federal trial to decide whether ex-chief of staff lied to protect his boss, Illinois House speaker

Aug 9, 2023, 1:16 PM

FILE - This Oct. 4, 2007 file photo shows Tim Mapes, chief of staff to Illinois House Speaker Madig...

FILE - This Oct. 4, 2007 file photo shows Tim Mapes, chief of staff to Illinois House Speaker Madigan at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill. A federal prosecutor has told jurors that evidence would show the former chief of staff lied to a grand jury to protect his boss. That assertion came during opening statements at the perjury and obstruction of justice trial in Chicago of Tim Mapes. He served for almost two decades as Madigan’s chief of staff. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

(AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

CHICAGO (AP) — The trial of a former chief of staff to longtime Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan opened Wednesday with a federal prosecutor arguing that the defendant lied under oath to a grand jury to protect his boss.

The 68-year-old Tim Mapes, who served for almost two decades as Madigan’s chief of staff, faces single counts of perjury and attempted obstruction of justice. A conviction on the obstruction count alone carries up to 20 years in prison.

Mapes lied repeatedly when he testified in 2021 to a grand jury investigating Madigan and others. In opening statements, the prosecutor told jurors Mapes also lied when he said he couldn’t recall any relevant details about Madigan’s ties to Michael McClain, who is a Madigan confidant, the Chicago Tribune reported.

“The defendant lied. Not just once but again and again and again, to prevent the grand jury from finding out” what Madigan, a Democrat, was up to, prosecutor Diane MacArthur said.

Federal jurors in May convicted four defendants of bribery conspiracy involving the state’s largest electric utility. Prosecutors said McClain, two former ComEd executives and a former utility consultant arranged contracts, jobs and money for associates of Madigan’s to ensure proposed bills boosting ComEd profits became law.

For decades, the 81-year-old Madigan was one of the most powerful state legislative leaders in the nation. Then in 2022, he was indicted on charges that included racketeering and bribery.

A year before his 2022 indictment and amid speculation that he was a federal target, he resigned from the Legislature as the longest-serving state House speaker in modern U.S. history.

In her opening Monday, defense lawyer Katie Hill told jurors Mapes never intentionally misled the grand jury, saying he simply couldn’t remember many details about which he was asked.

Hill likened the questions Mapes was asked to a pop quiz at a high school reunion. She asked jurors if they’d be able to remember the color of their prom corsages or who was class president their junior year, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

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

The first prosecution witness Monday was a former House Majority Leader Greg Harris, a Democrat from Chicago, who explained to jurors how state government works. He also described the power Madigan yielded as speaker.

Madigan has denied any wrongdoing.

The indictment accused Madigan, among other things, of reaping the benefits of private legal work that was illegally steered to his law firm.

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Federal trial to decide whether ex-chief of staff lied to protect his boss, Illinois House speaker