Jim Dey: One of Madigan's main men goes down for the count

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Feb. 14—One of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan's chief fixers returned to Chicago federal court Monday, where he received a fixed 30-month prison sentence for lying to a grand jury investigating his former boss.

That's no love tap for the 69-year-old Tim Mapes. But U.S. Judge John Kness' sentence was just half of what federal prosecutors recommended.

Mapes was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying to a grand jury investigating the Commonwealth Edison bribery conspiracy of which Madigan was — according to federal prosecutors — the ringleader.

Madigan still faces trial while four co-conspirators — former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiori and former utility lobbyists John Hooker, Jay Doherty and Michael McClain — have been convicted but not yet sentenced.

It's ironic that Mapes, a small fry in the context of ComEd, was the first to go down in the probe, especially because he committed perjury while enjoying a grant of legal immunity if he testified truthfully.

A witness with a grant of immunity — the equivalent of a get-out-of-jail-free card — just doesn't lie on the witness stand, absent the special circumstances Kness noted in his comments.

"This is a very sad case because I don't understand why you did what you did. You were immunized in the grand jury, and all you had to do was go in there and tell the truth," Kness said.

Telling the truth was never an option.

Mapes' intent was to admit what he could not deny and make false statements when responding to questions where he mistakenly believed he had wiggle room.

What Mapes didn't realize was that the feds knew the difference because they had taped conversations of him and McClain talking business.

Kness, ultimately, answered his own question about Mapes' actions by citing the mob concept of "omerta" — that "you don't rat on your friends."

As one FBI agent testified in Mapes' trial, Madigan's political organization operated like an organized-crime family.

Madigan played the role of a Diminutive Don while those underneath served him with loyalty and without question.

Mapes flourished in multiple roles for decades — Madigan's chief of staff in the Illinois House, clerk of the House and executive director of the Illinois Democratic Party that Madigan led as chairman.

As a quasi-Simon Lagree of the serfs in Madigan's Democratic House caucus, Mapes' high-handed management style bred resentment from those who couldn't fight back, until one day they could.

Mapes was brought down in 2018 on charges of bullying and sexual harassment, the first charge undoubtedly true and the other unquestionably more toxic.

Because times had changed in the wake of the "Me Too" movement, Madigan fired Mapes, showing his longtime subordinate none of the loyalty Madigan required of him.

Bully-boy Mapes didn't show up in court Monday.

A kinder, gentler and unrecognizable version of his former self did.

Adopting the role of a somewhat misunderstood Father Flanagan-type looking out for the orphans, Mapes said he tried to "live my life as a good man" and all he ever wanted to do was be a faithful "public servant" and "make life better for the citizens of Illinois."

Mapes also said he suffers from a broken heart because many people in Illinois "have lost faith in their government."

People in jams will say anything to escape the consequences of their actions. But even by that standard, Mapes' speech was over-the-top historical revisionism.

One could go on at length. But if Mapes really had wanted to be a good government Eagle Scout, he wouldn't have been working for Madigan.

Further, he might even have testified truthfully.

Mapes' theatrical flourish included tears as well as a reference to his distressed aging father.

Mapes didn't get the probation sentence he sought. But it could have been worse. Kness ordered him to report to Club Fed by June 11, when the sun should be shining.