THE LOOP — An employee of Cook County Court Clerk Dorothy Brown lied to a grand jury about raising money for the embattled politician, federal prosecutors alleged Friday.
Beena Patel, 55, a former associate clerk, lied to a federal grand jury in October of 2015 and July of 2016, according to the three-count indictment, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Patel lied when she testified that she had not sold tickets to Brown fundraisers to employees in Brown's office and knew that other employees did the same, according to the indictment announced by acting U.S. Attorney Joel Levin.
“Perjury before a grand jury is a serious offense and fundamentally undermines the investigative process of the grand jury,” Levin said. “Witnesses who testify before federal grand juries must be held accountable if they violate the oath they take to tell the truth.”
Brown was not named in the indictment, but federal officials said the charges stem from an ongoing probe of possible criminal violations in connection with the purchasing of jobs and promotions within the Clerk’s office, federal prosecutors said.
Brown spokeswoman Jalyne Strong praised Patel in a statement.
“Mrs. Beena Patel was a longtime, excellent employee of the Clerk’s Office, and is a person of honesty and integrity,” the statement said.
Patel also lied to the grand jury "when she denied knowing that another employee in the Clerk’s office had spoken to law enforcement and testified in the grand jury," and when she denied "having knowledge of efforts made to assist another clerk’s office employee with a promotion and pay increase," federal prosecutors said.
That employee's brother contributed approximately $10,000 to Brown's campaign fund, according to the indictment.
Brown won re-election to a fifth term last year despite the decision by leaders of the Cook County Democratic Party to drop their endorsement of her campaign. She steadfastly denied wrongdoing during the campaign and has not been charged.
The Tribune has previously reported that Cook County prosecutors were investigating a deal involving Brown and Patel's deceased brother, Narendra, who donated to Brown's campaign.
Narendra Patel gave Brown a building on south Pulaski Road in North Lawndale. Later Brown and her husband sold the building for $100,000, according to the newspaper.
In February, a man who federal officials said paid a $15,000 bribe to Brown was sentenced to three years of probation for lying to a grand jury about the scheme.
When he pled guilty, Sivasubramani Rajaram said he lied because he feared Brown and her associates would target him for payback.
Brown's attorney said the money Rajaram gave to Brown was a loan that has been paid back.
Read the full indictment here:
Patel Indictment by Heather Cherone on Scribd