Former Court Clerk Office Worker Gets 2 Years for Perjury

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A former high-ranking employee in the Cook County Circuit Court Clerk’s office was sentenced Thursday to two years in federal prison for lying to a grand jury investigating an alleged bribe-for-jobs scheme.

At her trial in April, prosecutors contended that Beena Patel lied to a grand jury by saying she never sold tickets to fundraisers for Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, and that she didn’t know if a co-worker targeted in the probe had ever spoken to law enforcement.

The federal jury also found that Patel committed perjury when she told the grand jury she didn't know another employee had been promoted after that employee's brother donated to the campaign.

“I am dying every day ...” the 58-year-old Patel said before she was sentenced. “All I can do is pray for my sins.”

U.S. District Judge Sara Ellis also took a swipe at Brown on Thursday, saying she noticed that the clerk was not among Patel’s supporters in the courtroom.

“For some reason, you made a decision to lie and protect her and she’s not here to help you when you need help,” the judge said.

Brown, whose cellphone was seized by federal investigators in 2015, has never been charged in the alleged bribery scheme and easily won re-election in 2016. This year, she announced she will step down next year after 20 years in office. She did not immediately return a call by The Associated Press seeking comment.

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