Tim Mapes trial, concerning former Madigan chief of staff, begins in earnest with opening statements

Mike Madigan trial scheduled for April

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Thursday, August 10, 2023
Jurors hear opening statements in former Madigan chief of staff trial
Tim Mapes, who served as former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan's chief of staff, is on trial.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Jurors in the trial of Tim Mapes, Mike Madigan's longtime chief of staff, began hearing from witnesses Wednesday afternoon as the government tries to prove he lied to a federal grand jury investigating Madigan.

The case at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse will hinge on whether jurors believe Mapes lied, or that he just didn't remember certain things.

The prosecution and defense agreed on one thing: that Mapes was part of former House Speaker Madigan's very tight inner circle.

The questions are if Mapes, 68, knew what Madigan was telling and asking of another confidant, and if he conveniently forgot or lied to a grand jury to protect Madigan.

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During opening statements, prosecutor Diane MacArthur described Mapes as Madigan's right-hand man, and a gatekeeper to the powerful speaker.

MacArthur quoted Mapes as saying, "I always try to protect him; that's my goal."

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In March of 2021, Mapes appeared before a federal grand jury investigating bribery allegations against Madigan in the ComEd corruption investigation.

He was asked numerous questions about assignments Madigan gave to Michael McClain, a lobbyist who was also part of Madigan's inner circle.

To seven related questions, Mapes answered he did not recall or could not remember.

MacArther told jurors when he did that, Mapes lied.

"The defendant always tries to protect the boss and the solid crew around him," she said. "When the defendant answered those questions, he lied. Not just once, but again and again and again. He was not going to reveal anything about his close friends."

During the defense opening statements, Attorney Katie Hill told jurors Mapes was asked over 500 questions before the grand jury.

He had been previously granted immunity, and was warned he would be charged with perjury if he did not tell the truth.

Hill told jurors Mapes listened and answered carefully.

"This is not the time to start making assumptions, not the time to start guessing" regarding questions about what he knew about interactions between Madigan and McClain, Hill said.

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"He's been charged with lying because in seven questions in over 500 he was asked, Tim Mapes gave answers the government did not like. There were things Tim Mapes did not know or did not remember," Hill said.

That, she argued, was not the same as Mapes lying.

She also noted that Mapes was forced to resign as Madigan's chief of staff in June 2018 due to a sexual harassment investigation, contending he was then iced out of the inner circle.

But prosecutors said Mapes and McClain continued to talk, and some of their conversations were recorded on then-secret wiretaps of McClain's phone.

The federal investigation targeting Madigan would not become public until 2019, when the feds raided McClain's home and car and took his phone.

McClain was convicted in the ComEd Four trial earlier this year.

Mapes' attorney said she will bring in a memory expert to bolster the defense claims that Mapes just didn't remember certain things.

Hill asked jurors rhetorically, "Is failing to remember 10 seconds from a phone call two years ago an attempt to thwart the government?"

Also on Wednesday, jurors heard from retired House Majority leader Greg Harris about some of the inner workings of state government, and from lobbyist Tom Cullen about some of the inner workings of Madigan's Springfield operations.

The jury that will decide Mapes' fate is made up of six men and six women. Eight of the jurors are white, two are Black and two are Asian.

There are also three alternates.

Mapes' trial was slated to last three weeks, but Monday morning attorneys indicated there will be fewer witnesses than originally planned, so it may not last that long.

Madigan goes on trial next April in a racketeering case.