CHICAGO (CBS) — Lies to a grand jury by a former associate clerk affected prosecutors’ “ability to file charges” against Cook County Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown, according to court filings released Wednesday.
Beena Patel is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of three counts of lying to a grand jury back in April.
The grand jury had been investigating possible hiring violations in Brown’s office.
In a sentencing position paper, Patel’s defense quoted a pre-sentence report by the U.S. Probation Department that said Patel’s false statements before the grand jury “affected the government’s ability to file charges against Dorothy Brown.”
The report referenced an earlier prosecution claim that Patel’s lies to the grand jury had “prevented the FBI from moving forward with their investigation of Dorothy Brown.”
Another sentencing memorandum filed Wednesday by prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s office did not mention Brown by name, but avowed that in lying to the federal grand jury, Patel “successfully threw a wrench in the wheels of justice and ground them to a halt.”
The prosecution memo said Patel orchestrated a bribe of $15,000 that another former Brown employee, Sivasubramani Rajaram, paid to Goat Masters – a business owned by Brown and her husband. In exchange, prosecutors claimed, Rajaram was rehired by the Circuit Court Clerk’s office.
Rajaram was sentenced three years’ probation in 2017, after admitting that he lied twice to the FBI and that bought his job in Brown’s office with the $15,000 “loan.”
Patel was eventually forced to admit that she was personally present at a Corner Bakery when Rajaram handed over a cash payment of $5,000, the prosecution document said.
Patel also claimed she had no knowledge about employees receiving promotions, raises, or other benefits in exchange for buying tickets to raise money for the Circuit Court Clerk – when in fact she herself sold tickets, collected money from other employees from ticket sales, and organized fundraisers, the prosecution document said.
For the past several years, federal investigators have been looking into allegations Brown sold jobs in exchange for campaign donations, with an alleged going rate of $10,000. Another court document released about a year ago claimed that Brown herself collected the cash.
Brown was also scrutinized for a land deal involving a commercial building at Pulaski and Cermak roads that was given to her husband, Benton Cook III, by businessman and Brown campaign donor Naren Patel.
Brown has denied all allegations and has not been indicted.
First elected in 2000, Brown announced in August that she will not be running for a sixth term next year. Speaking to CBS 2’s Brad Edwards in office, Brown chalked up the scrutiny that her office has faced for people whom she fired upon taking office and who wanted revenge.
“I also feel that, you know, there were people that I terminated when I took office that from the very beginning decided that they were going to quote-unquote ‘get me.’ And they worked and worked, and they basically went there, and they told some lies,” she said in August. “Of course, when you lie on a politician in Chicago, that’s you know, when you tell those kind of lies, people have to investigate, which is fine. But the end of the day, the best defense is a good offense, and the best offense is to make sure that regardless of what rock they turn over, that they find nothing.”
Brown said she has never been interviewed by the FBI or any other law enforcement agency.
Brown ran twice for mayor unsuccessfully. In 2007, she challenged then-Mayor Richard M. Daley, but finished in a distant second in a three-way race. Daley won 72 percent of the vote, Brown won 20 percent, and Bill “Dock” Walls won 8 percent. Daley also won all 20 of the city’s majority-black wards, despite facing two African-American challengers.
Brown also ran for mayor this year, first announcing her campaign before then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel shocked the city and said he would not run for reelection last September. Brown was ultimately removed from the ballot, four days after a hearing officer at the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners determined she didn’t have enough valid signatures on her nominating petitions.
She told Edwards in August that she does not plan to seek elected office again, and said she hoped for a legacy showing that she “did everything that I possibly could to serve the people.