U.S. District Judge Franklin Valderrama made the ruling during a pretrial conference Friday, where it appeared Thompson’s trial was on track to begin Feb. 4.
A judge ruled that Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson’s (11th) defense attorneys may show jurors his amended tax returns during his federal criminal trial, which appears to be on track for Feb. 4.
U.S. District Judge Franklin Valderrama made the ruling during a pretrial conference Friday, though he said his explanation would appear in a later written ruling.
Prosecutors had argued that Thompson amended his tax returns in April 2019, well after he was aware of a government investigation and “had retained criminal counsel.” They said agents visited Thompson Dec. 3, 2018.
Thompson’s lawyers insisted the alderman decided to amend his returns before he knew he was under investigation for anything, insisting he had only been told of an investigation into Washington Federal Bank for Savings.
The amended tax returns were the subject of an evidentiary hearing earlier this week.
During Friday’s hearing, Valderrama also laid out COVID-19 protocols for Thompson’s trial. He did so after checking to see if any lawyer would ask that the trial be delayed due to the latest surge of the virus. None did.
The judge said lawyers and witnesses would only be allowed to remove their masks at certain times at trial — and only if they’ve been fully vaccinated against the virus and received a booster shot.
The Dirksen Federal Courthouse’s 25th-floor ceremonial courtroom, its largest, will also be used as an overflow room where members of the public will be allowed to view the proceedings.
Thompson is charged with filing false income tax returns and lying to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. His indictment says he received three payments totaling $219,000 from Washington Federal between 2011 and 2014, through a purported loan and other unsecured payments.
The feds say he made only one payment on a loan but failed to pay any interest. Then, after federal regulators shut down the bank in December 2017, the FDIC tried to collect the money from Thompson. The alderman allegedly lied about how much he owed.
The indictment alleged that Thompson claimed in federal tax returns for the years 2013 through 2017 to have paid more than $170,000 in mortgage interest. Washington Federal allegedly sent IRS forms to Thompson that falsely accounted for mortgage interest payments.
Thompson’s defense attorney has said the indictment is misleading, arguing that Thompson only deducted $50,000 in error.
Regulators shut down Washington Federal less than two weeks after its president, John Gembara, was found dead. He was seated in a chair, a rope around his neck, in the master bedroom of the $1 million Park Ridge home of his bank customer and friend, Marek Matczuk, who is among 14 others who face charges in connection with alleged fraud at the bank.