Rising star Chicago defense attorney target of criminal probe
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter August 6, 2014 11:40AM
Beau Brindley talks to reporters in 2012 in the lobby of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse after a court appearance. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times
Updated: September 8, 2014 10:53AM
A rising star defense attorney is being targeted in a federal criminal investigation into allegations he solicited a client into perjury in a 2009 drug dealing case.
Prosecutors on Wednesday revealed that the FBI is probing whether lawyer Beau Brindley encouraged drug dealer Rahshone Burnett to lie under oath.
In an unusual move, agents raided Brindley’s office in the downtown Monadnock building last month and seized evidence.
During a hearing before U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman on Wednesday, prosecutors said Burnett could be called to testify against Brindley, who now has a conflict of interest.
Gettleman appointed another lawyer, Chuck Aron, to work with Burnett, who followed the hearing via video link from prison in Kentucky.
The judge told Burnett that “because Mr. Brindley is a target of a prosecution, he might be more inclined to curry favor or help the government out in ways that he can in order to help his own case, and that could include what he does with your case.”
Brindley — who has represented high profile clients including mobster Sam Volpendesto and prison breaker Jose Banks — declined to comment outside court, referring questions to his own attorney, Cynthia Giacchetti, who also declined to talk.
Though he is just 36, Brindley has made a name for himself as a passionate and colorful advocate for hard-up defendants, including gun runner “Big Dave” Lewisbey, who he memorably but unsuccessfully last year argued had made his money selling drugs, not guns.
But at least twice before, Brindley has upset judges, who have accused him of untruthfulness.
In 2012, he was jailed for two days for contempt by U.S. District Judge Michael McCuskey, who said Brindley lied about why he could not attend hearings in McCuskey’s Urbana courtroom.
“Brindley’s manner and demeanor during his testimony before the court was rife with indicators of evasion, deception and untruthfulness,” McCuskey wrote.
And earlier this year Brindley was fined $2,000 by U.S. Appelate Court Judge Frank Easterbrook.
In a pointed opinion, Easterbrook wrote that “Brindley may not have set out to develop a reputation as a lawyer whose word cannot be trusted, but he has acquired it. This opinion serves as a public rebuke and as a warning that any further deceit will lead to an order requiring Brindley to show cause why he should not be suspended or disbarred.”
Brindley’s problems got worse last month, when prosecutors filed court papers saying “Mr. Brindley was recently notified that he is a target of a federal criminal investigation.”
Prosecutors at that time asked that all of Brindley’s clients be informed of the investigation, so that they can decide what to do.
Lewisbey — who is appealing his conviction — fired Brindley Wednesday afternoon, but other clients have yet to decide how to respond.
Burnett is represented by Brindley in two cases, one of which made headlines last summer, when he was convicted of stealing $1 million from his bereaved family.
Burnett was supposed to use a $5.75 million court settlement to raise his sister’s five surviving children after a fire at her Chicago Housing Authority home in 2001 — but instead used it to fund his own lavish lifestyle, purchasing diamond jewelry and a Bentley with the license plate “FLYHI.”
He also used the settlement to bankroll a heroin business, which lead to his conviction in a second criminal case in August. It’s that case which Brindley is now being investigated in connection with, the feds say.