ROCKFORD, Ill. (CN) – A prosecutor claims McHenry County State’s Attorney Louis Bianchi fired him for testifying to a grand jury that was investigating Bianchi.
Kirk Chrzanowski sued Bianchi in his individual and official capacities, and also sued Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Combs, and McHenry County, in Federal Court.
Chrzanowski claims Bianchi fired him on Dec. 2, 2011 after Chrzanowski testified that Bianchi had improperly influenced a plea deal in a case for which Chrzanowski was responsible.
Bianchi was indicted by a McHenry County grand jury in September 2010 on 19 felony counts of official misconduct and one felony county of unlawful communication with a grand jury witness. Winnebago County Judge Joseph McGraw cleared Bianchi of those charges in March 2011.
The grand jury charged Bianchi with three additional counts in February 2011, claiming Bianchi’s office had dropped a criminal case and given preferential treatment to defendants through improper actions.
Bianchi was cleared of those allegations too, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Bianchi is planning to run for a third term. He called his indictments politically motivated.
Chrzanowski said Bianchi fired him on trumped-up allegations after he testified to the grand jury on Feb. 10, 2011.
“Plaintiff gave sworn testimony before the grand jury concerning the allegation that McHenry County State’s Attorney Louis A. Bianchi had improperly influenced and/or arranged a negotiated plea in a case for which plaintiff was principally responsible,” the complaint states.
Chrzanowski says that grand jury returned an indictment against Bianchi on Feb. 24, 2011, charging him with official misconduct.
In April, Chrzanowski says, he was listed as a potential witness in Bianchi’s trial, and he did testify on Aug. 1, 2011.
While all this was happening, Chrzanowski says, Bianchi “began to retaliate against the plaintiff by placing purportedly negative information in the plaintiff’s personnel file.”
The complaint continues: “On June 6, 2011, defendant Bianchi placed a memorandum in the plaintiff’s personnel file that was negative and unrelated to his performance as an Assistant McHenry County State’s Attorney. The memorandum stated: ‘This morning when I was passing through the office at approximately
8:20, Kirk was passing through with two college females who are spending their internship here at the office. He passed me by without introducing me. I then went around the office and intentionally came and circled around and stopped him and asked him to introduce me to them. He never would have thought of introducing me to them had I not stopped him and made a point of it.’
“The plaintiff was not made aware that the memorandum was placed in his personnel file, nor was he given an opportunity to respond to the memorandum.”
Chrzanowski says Bianchi placed other items in his personnel file, also without telling him or allowing him to respond.
Then, “On December 2, 2011, plaintiff was summoned from his regular courtroom duties by James Kelch, an investigator of the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office, to defendant Bianchi’s office,” the complaint states.
“Once present in defendant Bianchi’s office, plaintiff was confronted and interrogated by defendants Bianchi and [Michael] Combs. State’s Attorney Investigator James Kelch was also present, but did not participate in the interrogation.
“Defendant Combs presented plaintiff with a transcript of his grand jury and trial testimony from the matter People v. Louis A. Bianchi, 11 CF 169 and interrogated plaintiff about his testimony.
“Defendant Combs presented plaintiff with purported phone records and interrogated plaintiff about same.
“Defendant Bianchi asked plaintiff for his resignation and when plaintiff refused, Louis A. Bianchi told plaintiff, ‘You’re terminated. Get out.’ Plaintiff’s firing was in retaliation for his truthful testimony against defendant Bianchi.”
Due to his firing, Chrzanowski says, he lost 300 hours of accumulated sick and paid personal time, has suffered economic losses and emotional distress, embarrassment and mental anguish.
Chrzanowski claims Bianchi has a history of punishing those who go against him. He claims Bianchi constructively discharged another attorney who also testified against him, and fired a third attorney who refused to grant a recognizance bond to a defendant in a felony matter.
Chrzanowski claims Combs was promoted to Chief of the Criminal Division of the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office after helping Bianchi fire him.
Chrzanowski seeks actual and punitive damages for violations of free speech, retaliatory discharge and civil conspiracy.
He is represented by Jamie Wombacher, of Woodstock, Ill.