• Erin Hegarty
    FEB 14, 2022

    Defense in Daley Thompson case rests its case with closing arguments expected Monday

    The Everett McKinley Dirksen United States Courthouse [Erin Hegarty / The Daily Line] 

    Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11) confirmed on Friday he will not testify in his federal jury trial as his defense attorneys called its final round of witnesses close to Thompson to vouch for him as someone who is willing to “help anyone” but is “not a details person.

    Friday marked the fourth day of witness testimony in Thompson’s trial for allegedly lying to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and undervaluing his income on his tax returns. His defense attorneys called to the stand a colleague and close friend of Thompson, a Bridgeport priest, an NBA referee who’s a family friend and people who talked to Thompson about his loans from the now-defunct Washington Federal Bank for Savings. 

    Also on Friday morning, U.S. District Judge Franklin Valderamma denied Thompson’s defense attorneys’ motions for acquittal on counts that Thompson lied about his loans from Washington Federal Bank for Savings. 

    Closing arguments in Thompson’s trial are scheduled to begin at 9:15 a.m. Monday. 

    Jury selection for the case wrapped up last Monday, and opening statements and testimony began the next day when attorneys painted two different pictures of Thompson. 

    Related: Prosecutors argue Daley Thompson knowingly lied to feds, underreported income while attorney paints him as 'frazzled,’ forgetful 

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Netols in his opening statement on Tuesday argued that Thompson, 52, a real estate attorney, knowingly lied to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, as he regularly deals with “matters much more complex than mortgage matters.” And Chris Gair, Thompson’s defense attorney, painted the alderman as a “good guy” who is unorganized, forgetful and was unaware of his situation.  

    The 10-page indictment handed down last April by U.S. Attorney John Lausch alleged that in 2018, Thompson lied twice to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) when he understated the outstanding loans he took out from Washington Federal Bank for Savings. Additionally, Thompson knowingly undervalued his income on each annual tax return he filed between 2014 and 2018, the indictment alleges.  

    Related: Thompson slams ‘false’ indictment, blames ‘incorrect memory’ for fudged income reporting  

    Between 2011 and 2014, when he was a commissioner on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, Thompson took out $219,000 in loans from the Washington Federal Bank for Savings, according to the indictment. But the bank failed in 2017, and when the FDIC sought to reimburse account holders, Thompson reported that he “owed $100,000 or $110,000,” which was less than half of his actual debt burden.  

    Additionally, the indictment alleges that Thompson lied on his 2013 income tax returns when he claimed a $32,259 home mortgage interest deduction and he “knew he did not pay mortgage interest in the amount reported on the return.” Thompson claimed the deduction each of the next four years, ultimately reporting less taxable income than he actually earned, according to the indictment. 

    Thompson ‘truthful and hardworking’ but ‘not a details person:’ defense 

    Thompson’s defense attorneys on Friday called Robert Gamrath, Thompson’s friend and colleague at Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, to testify. 

    Gamrath called Thompson “one of the most honest, truthful and hardworking people I know” with a “stellar reputation” in the legal community.  

    But Thompson is also “probably the most over-scheduled person I have ever met,” Gamrath said, adding the 11th Ward alderman might typically begin his day doing ward work before heading into the law office, then down to City Hall for a council or committee meeting before heading back south to tend to ward issues.  

    “He is a great strategic thinker but not a details person,” Gamrath said, adding he is a “victim of information overload” due to his “hectic schedule” and has to be “reminded or rely on others to meet his deadlines and obligations.” 

    But Netols during cross examination asked Gamrath whether that meant Thompson “needs someone to hold his hand to do his work.” 

    Netols further asked Gamrath whether Thompson is “not a details person” when he is working on issues related to “final details” in the law practice or serving on the City Council and its finance committee, which “makes decisions that affect all taxpayers in the city.” 

    Gamrath said people on their team have different strengths, and Thompson’s is his strategic thinking. 

    Gamrath ultimately said he “knows very little about the facts in this case” and that he doesn’t “have an interest” in its result. 

    Additionally, Angela Wilkinson, who said she’s been a family friend of Thompson’s for “as long as [she] can remember” and serves with Thompson as a board member on the South Loop Chamber of Commerce knows Thompson as a “very honest” and “kind-hearted” person who would “do anything to help anyone.” 

    Prosecutors asked Wilkinson whether Thompson is the type of person who would follow through with his willingness to help anyone and whether he is the type of person who could follow up with emails. Wilkinson responded to the latter question saying, “I honestly don’t know.” 

    Additionally, Wilkinson admitted she is not familiar with Thompson’s tax preparations or dealings with Washington Federal Bank for Savings.  

    And Fr. Jozo Grbes, who has been a Catholic priest for 29 years, said he’s known Thompson for “many, many years,” potentially as long as 20 years and “always thought he was a very honest, gentle man willing to help people…just a good decent human being.” 

    Still, in responding to prosecutors' questions in cross examination, Grbes said he does not know details of Thompson’s tax preparations or his dealings with Washington Federal Bank for Savings or the FDIC. 

    Marc Davis, a referee for the National Basketball Association and close friend of Thompson and his brother, said he knows Thompson “to be a sweet, honest gentleman, someone who cares more about others than himself. I know him to be brutally almost irritatingly honest, almost to a fault.” 

    Davis said he’s known Thompson and his brother for more than 40 years. 

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