Ex-Madigan aide sentenced to 30 months in prison for obstruction of justice attempt, perjury
For most of his adult working life, Tim Mapes only had one boss: former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.
And for the more than 25 years he served as Madigan’s chief of staff, Mapes was known for his extreme loyalty to the powerful speaker. His office décor in the state Capitol in Springfield featured a sign inspired by the 1939 classic film “The Wizard of Oz” that read: “Nobody gets in to see the wizard. Not nobody, not no how.”
But federal prosecutors say that instinct toward loyalty in his longtime role as gatekeeper to the speaker led Mapes to lie to a grand jury in 2021, a few months after Madigan left office amid a growing criminal probe into his inner circle.
And on Monday, U.S. District Judge John Kness agreed, telling Mapes he didn’t understand the longtime political operative’s actions before sentencing him to 30 months in prison for his August conviction on one count each of perjury and attempted obstruction of justice.
“Perhaps this was out of some sense of loyalty, but if that was the case, your loyalty was greatly misguided,” Kness said.
Mapes, who didn't testify in his own defense during trial, chose to make a statement before the judge handed down his sentence, saying he was proud of the decades he put into public service in Illinois government.
But Mapes was also self-aware, having seen two governors and many other politicians indicted, convicted and sentenced to prison during his time in Springfield.
“I also recognize that many people in the state of Illinois have lost faith in their government,” Mapes said. “And that breaks my heart.”
'Protect the boss’
Flanked by his attorneys, Mapes stood stoically receiving the news of his sentence, which was preceded by more than 30 minutes of near-monologue from the judge.
Kness wondered aloud if Mapes was operating under the old mafia logic of “omertà,” an Italian term for the mob honor code wherein members of organized crime outfits were pressured to solve disputes among themselves and to never cooperate with law enforcement. During trial, a retired FBI special agent testified that Madigan ran his political organization almost like “the head of a mafia family.”
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“I have to say the law of omertà had no place in that grand jury room,” Kness said. “And now you will pay a price for it.”
Prosecutors have frequently claimed that Mapes could have been a star witness in the government’s probe but chose to tank his own grand jury interview instead.
“(Mapes) was evasive, he was non-responsive and he flat-out lied,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Schwartz said in closing arguments last year. “He did it to protect the boss and stay in the foxhole.”
Both “protect the boss” and “stay in the foxhole” were nods to phrases heard throughout trial. Many witnesses who worked alongside Madigan testified “protect the boss” was a common refrain for those who worked under the speaker, and it was also heard on wiretapped calls played for the jury.
Kness said he took Mapes’ age – 69 – into account in sentencing him but said the other factors in the case played a larger role, including the message a multi-year sentence would send to elected officials and the general public.
“The people of this state cry out for accountability,” Kness said. “A wise person I once knew said, ‘accountability is liberating.’ That may not mean much to you right now, but I think it might down the road.”
Mapes began working for the Illinois House in 1977, a couple years after his graduation from Western Illinois University. Madigan wouldn’t become speaker until 1983, but Mapes continued to climb the ranks within House staff until Madigan tapped him as chief of staff in 1992.
Mapes built upon his position as chief of staff, taking over as director of the Democratic Party of Illinois under Madigan’s chairmanship later that decade, and serving as clerk of the Illinois House for the last seven years of his career.
But all three roles ended abruptly in 2018 when, at the height of the #MeToo movement, a House staffer accused Mapes of sexual harassment and bullying. It was the third accusation made against a member of Madigan’s top deputies that year, and the speaker responded by demanding Mapes’ resignation.
In the summer of 2020, the prosecutors announced electric utility Commonwealth Edison had entered into a $200 million deferred prosecution agreement and agreed to cooperate with the feds’ investigation into an alleged bribery scheme aimed at currying favor with Madigan.
Several months later, Madigan’s close confidant and ComEd’s longtime top contract lobbyist Mike McClain was indicted for orchestrating the alleged bribes, along with the utility’s former CEO and two other ex-lobbyists. Emails and wiretapped phone calls shown at trial also established Mapes’ close relationship with McClain, though attorneys for Mapes attempted to minimize their friendship to the jury.
Against this backdrop, Mapes sat for the grand jury in March 2021 after having been put under an immunity order, meaning he wouldn’t be charged with any wrongdoing related to the criminal probe into Madigan’s inner circle. However, Mapes was warned multiple times that if he lied under oath, he’d be charged.
Two months later, he was.
On Monday, Kness said Mapes’ case was “very sad,” and especially “aggravating” because Mapes was placed under immunity.
“Whatever compulsion you felt to protect Michael McClain and the former speaker of the House, Mr. Madigan, as far as I can tell was not reciprocated…and was not necessary,” the judge said. “You were immunized. You had no personal risk in going to the grand jury other than you didn’t tell the truth. And that’s what you did.”
McClain was convicted along with his three co-defendants in the ComEd bribery case in May, and also awaits trial alongside Madigan in October on related racketeering and bribery charges.
Mapes will report to prison on June 11, though a facility assignment was not immediate. Before Kness gaveled out Monday’s hearing, Mapes’ attorney asked that he be sent to a federal prison in Pensacola, Florida, as his family would be able to visit him on trips nearby.
Asked for comment as he emerged from the conference room he’d retreated to after the sentencing hearing, Mapes shook his head and gave a thumbs-down signal to reporters as he walked across the hall to a men’s bathroom. He later left the building with his wife, exiting quickly past cameras waiting in the courthouse lobby.
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