CHICAGO (CBS) -- Timothy Mapes, once the longtime chief of staff to former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges of making false statements to a grand jury investigating public corruption allegations.
Mapes entered the plea through his attorney Friday morning during a hearing held by teleconference before U.S. District Judge John Lee, who allowed Mapes to remain free on $10,000 bail ahead of trial.
Mapes, 66, of Springfield, is charged with one count of making false declarations to a grand jury and one count of attempted obstruction of justice.
The indictment claims a federal grand jury was investigating efforts by Madigan and someone working on his behalf – who was not named in the indictment, but was suggested to be longtime Madigan confidant Michael McClain – to obtain private jobs, contracts, and payments for others from ComEd and to influence and reward Madigan.
McClain is a former Com Ed lobbyist and onetime state representative who is known to be a very close friend of the former speaker's.
On March 24 of this year, Mapes was granted immunity to testify before the grand jury. No testimony he provided would be used him in a criminal case unless he made a false statement or committed perjury.
Prosecutors said just one week later, Mapes indeed did make false statements to that grand jury about a consultant McClain's relationship with Madigan from 2017 until 2019.
Mapes denied knowing the consultant acted as an agent or performed work for Madigan doing those years, when he knew the consultant had done so, according to the indictment.
The grand jury claimed Mapes attempted to "corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede" the investigation.
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If convicted, Mapes could face 20 years in prison on the obstruction charge and five years on the false declaration charge.
Mapes' attorney, Andrew Porter, issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
"Tim Mapes testified truthfully in the grand jury. His honest recollections-in response to vague and imprecise questions about events that allegedly took place many years ago- simply do not constitute perjury. This case, of course, is not about him—but about the government's continued pursuit of his former boss. Tim Mapes has in no way engaged in obstruction of justice, and looks forward to prevailing at trial when all of the facts are aired."
"If there was any hope that they were trying to flip this guy, that kind of the gives the message that it's not coming anytime soon," said CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller.
As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported, the indictment against Mapes is significant for several reasons. One is that he was Madigan's right-hand man and close confidant as his chief of staff, and another is that he is one of several people with close ties to Madigan who have now been indicted in connection with the bribery scheme.
These indictments, in particular, show the feds are inching slowly toward their main target – Madigan himself. That is not really a secret, considering that prosecutors all but named him outright in ComEd's deferred prosecution agreement last summer – in which the utility admitted to a bribery scheme that gave those jobs, money, and contracts to Madigan associates.
"They're going up that ladder until they get the person at the top of the ladder – and obviously, we know who the person at the top of the ladder is," said CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller. "They're not giving up."
Madigan resigned his seat as a state representative in February, little more than a month after surrendering the gavel as Speaker of the Illinois House. He also resigned as Illinois Democratic Party chairman.
Madigan lost his seat as Illinois House Speaker only after he was implicated last year in the sweeping ComEd bribery scandal.
Madigan had been under fire for months over the bribery scandal. Last July, federal prosecutors accused ComEd of a yearslong bribery scheme that sought to curry Madigan's favor in advancing legislation relaxing state regulation of ComEd's rates by directing $1.3 million in payments to the speaker's associates. ComEd acknowledged it stood to benefit by more than $150 million from that legislation.
ComEd has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the feds, and has agreed to pay a $200 million fine, enact a number of reforms, and cooperate with investigators in exchange for prosecutors dropping charges in 2023 if ComEd lives up to its obligations.
In November, McClain, former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, former ComEd executive and lobbyist John Hooker, and former lobbyist Jay Doherty were charged with bribery conspiracy, bribery, and willfully falsifying ComEd books and records. They have pleaded not guilty. That followed the September guilty plea by a former ComEd vice president, Fidel Marquez.
Madigan has not been charged with a crime, and has denied any wrongdoing.
Mapes served as Madigan's chief of staff until 2018.
It is not clear when Mapes will be arraigned, but based on his response, he is likely to plead not guilty.
Miller said this latest indictment against Mapes is another indication that the feds do not have the evidence to charge Madigan directly.
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