Chicago attorney Beau Brindley, currently under criminal investigation, first drew scrutiny seven years ago when federal authorities suspected he smuggled cigarettes to an inmate during a meeting in the U.S. attorney's office, according to court records.
Brindley was not charged with any wrongdoing as a result of the investigation in 2007, but he now finds himself again in the crosshairs of federal authorities.
In a story first reported by the Tribune, federal prosecutors revealed last week that Brindley, a criminal defense lawyer, was himself under criminal investigation for allegedly soliciting perjury from a client charged in a drug conspiracy case.
Brindley’s attorney, Cynthia Giacchetti, who represented Brindley during the 2007 investigation as well as in the ongoing probe, did not return calls Thursday seeking comment.
The 2007 investigation arose from Brindley’s representation of Lee Anglin, a politically connected, onetime Southeast Side publisher who was charged in a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, the court records show.
While awaiting trial, Anglin was being held in custody at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago when he claimed to have developed information against a fellow inmate, according to court records. With Brindley present, Anglin met with prosecutors in February 2007 at their offices in the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in hopes of winning a break in his own case. Anglin and Brindley spoke privately afterward, records show.
Shortly after Anglin was brought back to the MCC, guards patted him down and found a pack of cigarettes and a tin of chewing tobacco hidden in an envelope that was marked as legal papers, according to the records.
When federal investigators questioned Brindley that next June, he acknowledged bringing the contraband to the meeting with Anglin but claimed he had decided not to give the items to Anglin, prosecutors said in a 2010 filing before Anglin’s sentencing. It was only later that Brindley “realized that the tobacco items were nonetheless missing from his pocket,” according to the filing.
Later that month, Anglin signed a sworn statement prepared by Brindley that claimed he had taken the cigarettes from Brindley without his knowledge, according to court records.
At a hearing before U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman that same month, federal prosecutors revealed that Brindley was under investigation and asked the judge to warn Anglin that there could be a conflict of interest in keeping Brindley as his attorney.
“Here, judge, we have a situation where the investigation relates specifically to the attorney’s conduct with this client,” a transcript quoted then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Collins as saying. “...The government’s position is that there is a conflict at this point that needs to be resolved.”
Anglin, however, insisted he was to blame and said he wanted to keep Brindley as his attorney.
“For the record, I mean, the tobacco is not something (Brindley) gave to me to take back in,” Anglin told the judge, according to the transcript. “It was something I did on my own. So I’m at fault. This whole big mess is because of me, not because of any actions that my attorney did.”
But two months later, Anglin was recorded on a jailhouse telephone telling a female acquaintance that the sworn statement had been Brindley’s idea, prosecutors said in their 2010 filing.
“I took the rap for something,” Anglin was quoted as saying on the call. “I lied to my judge. I told him I f------ stole (the tobacco) from him when I actually didn’t…So when I lied, (Brindley) thought the investigation would go away.”
Anglin pleaded no contest to the fraud charges and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Last year, Anglin filed to have his sentence thrown out because of Brindley’s allegedly inadequate representation. As part of that case, Anglin referred to recorded MCC calls in which he purportedly asked Brindley “in code words” to bring cigarettes and chewing tobacco to the 2007 meeting with prosecutors. The judge has yet to rule.
Last month, the FBI raided Brindley's law office, taking client files and computer drives. After an appeals court ordered that each of Brindley’s clients be notified of the federal probe of their attorney, prosecutors revealed last week at one such hearing that Brindley allegedly solicited perjury from client Rahshone Burnett, now in prison for drug distribution.
The Tribune reported that the investigation also involves a second criminal defendant who claimed in a court filing last year that Brindley scripted his testimony in a 2011 trial on drug and weapons charges, including going so far as to write out answers and make the client memorize them before he took the stand.