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Lawyer: Ex-mole who pleaded guilty to fraud might be mentally ill

Updated: July 14, 2014 5:37PM



Serial fraudster John Thomas risked a judge’s ire when he allegedly ducked out from house arrest earlier this summer to arrange a tryst with his lover at his dentist’s office.

Now, his attorney says the colorful Thomas — a former federal mole who last month pleaded guilty to stealing $370,000 in tax increment financing funds from south suburban Riverdale — was exhibiting “what some might call bizarre or indeed reckless behavior” and may be mentally ill.

Defense attorney Larry Beaumont says the smooth-talking Thomas, who faces up to 20 years behind bars when he is sentenced later this year, has “extreme mood swings” and is sometimes “depressed to the point of being tearful.”

At other times, Thomas “is very manic,” Beaumont wrote in a court filing, adding that in his “lay opinion (Thomas) suffers from bi-polar disorder.”

Charged in April with stealing from the $900,000 he was handed by Riverdale taxpayers to redevelop the ailing Riverdale Marina, Thomas has been locked up at the downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center since he pleaded guilty in May.

He turned himself in after spending a wild few weeks violating the terms of his house arrest, which were imposed by U.S. District Judge James Zagel — allegedly secretly engineering real estate deals, trying to arrange a meeting with his lover, even roping his dentist into his wacky cover story.

Beaumont says Thomas’s strange behavior should be checked out by a court-appointed psychologist. The behavior predates his arrest and should be considered as part of Thomas’s sentencing, Beaumont said Monday.

Thomas previously dodged prison for a late 1990s billboard scam conviction by serving as a federal informant for nearly a decade, providing evidence that helped convict politically-connected real estate developer Tony Rezko.

Trailed by a series of lawsuits and allegations of wrongdoing in recent years, his scams allegedly included paying another attorney who represented him with a phony Babe Ruth baseball.

In addition to the tax-increment financing funds he stole, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of boats and equipment were stolen from Riverdale Marina on his watch.

Email: kjanssen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @kimjnews



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