Cook County circuit clerk associate sentenced for lying to grand jury

Chronicle Media

Beena Patel

A former associate clerk in the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County has been sentenced to two years in prison for lying under oath to a federal grand jury.

Beena Patel, 58, of Chicago, was convicted earlier this year of making false declarations before a grand jury. The grand jury was conducting an investigation of possible criminal violations in connection with the alleged purchasing of jobs and promotions in Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown’s office.

U.S. District Judge Sara Ellis imposed the two-year sentence after a hearing Dec. 12 in federal court in Chicago.

“The defendant not only had answers to the questions the grand jury was asking, but had information that went to the very heart of its investigation,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Heather McShain and Ankur Srivastava argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “Witnesses who lie during the course of a grand jury investigation not only violate their solemn oath to tell the truth, but also impede the grand jury’s ability to gather evidence.”

According to evidence at trial, the grand jury was conducting an investigation of possible criminal violations in connection with jobs and promotions in the Circuit Clerk’s office. Patel sold campaign fundraiser tickets on behalf of the clerk to colleagues in the office and knew that other employees did the same. Yet when asked about it during grand jury testimony on Oct. 15, 2015, Patel denied selling tickets to employees and denied knowing that other employees had done the same. The jury at trial found that Patel’s statements were false.

Evidence further revealed that Patel provided false statements to the grand jury about two other matters. Patel lied when she denied having recent conversations with another Circuit Clerk’s Office employee who had previously loaned $15,000 to a company associated with Brown and her husband. Patel also falsely denied contacting Brown’s chief of staff regarding a promotion opportunity for a Circuit Clerk’s Office employee whose brother had previously donated $10,000 to the clerk’s campaign.

Brown has not been charged with any wrongdoing.