CHICAGO (CBS) — Beena Patel, a former aide to Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, has been sentenced to two years in prison, after she was convicted earlier this year of lying to a grand jury investigating corruption in the clerk’s office.
Federal prosecutors have said Patel’s lies “threw a wrench in the wheels” of that investigation.
In April, a jury convicted Patel of three counts of perjury. Federal prosecutors had accused her of lying to a grand jury about a pay-to-play scheme in Brown’s office.
Prosecutors have 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, according to prosecutors.
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.
Brown was the focus of a federal investigation for several years, amid allegations she traded jobs for campaign donations – allegedly for a rate of $10,000.
Brown has denied all allegations and has not been indicted.
Court documents made public last month revealed Patel’s lies were partially responsible for federal prosecutors’ inability to charge Brown in their corruption probe.
In their sentencing memo, 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 by federal prosecutors 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.”
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.