Former 11th Ward Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson argued Wednesday that he should not lose his license to practice law after his conviction last year for tax fraud and lying to the government.
But the hearing before a panel of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission also offered a glimpse into Thompson’s life behind bars during four months in Wisconsin’s federal prison in Oxford.
Asked by his attorney about his time there before he was released in the days before Christmas, Thompson — a grandson of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley and nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley — said, “It was horrible, absolutely horrible.
“One of the requirements is that you had to work. I worked as a manager.”
One bright spot, he said, was mentoring a fellow inmate from the South Side who was trying to get a high school equivalency degree.
Thompson, 53, a golfer, said he tried to embrace a Tiger Woods aphorism in prison: “Don’t be bitter, be better.”
“And that’s the attitude I took there,” he said.
Thompson’s law license has been suspended on a temporary basis for nearly a year.
Administrators of the Disciplinary Commission, which regulates lawyers in Illinois, want Thompson suspended from the practice of law for three years.
It is ultimately the Illinois Supreme Court that determines the length of any suspension.
On Wednesday, Thompson, as his lawyers did during his trial, tried to paint the five fraudulent tax returns he filed as inadvertent errors.
He presented witnesses — including a priest, a former law partner, a lobbyist friend and former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who was CEO of Chicago Public Schools under his uncle — to attest to his character. John Dunn, an aide to fellow Mayor Daley, suggested his law firm would be happy to hire Thompson if he regains his law license.
The criminal case against Thompson centered on more than $219,000 he received from the Washington Federal Bank for Savings in Bridgeport before it was closed by federal regulators in 2017 because of a fraud scheme and not long after bank manager John Gembara was found dead after a bank customer’s 1 million dollars. Park Ridge home.
Following Washington Federal’s closure, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Thompson’s loan to a company called Planet Home Lending.
Evidence at his trial showed that Thompson, on his 2013 through 2017 tax returns, falsely claimed the mortgage interest deduction for interest he never paid to Washington Federal.
He was also convicted of lying to a Planet Home Lending customer service representative and FDIC contractors about how much he borrowed from the bank.
He is appealing the convictions for lying, but not for tax fraud.
“My family has suffered. I have suffered, my reputation, my name,” said Thompson, whose hearing on his law license resumes next week. “My hope is to try to rebuild my life … as a practicing attorney.”