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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

State’s Attorney Sues His Accusers

CHICAGO (CN) - A state's attorney who was cleared of political corruption charges has turned the table on his prosecutors and sued them, alleging "a conspiracy, motivated by [his] political enemies."

McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi and three of his assistants claim the accusations pursued by special prosecutors Henry Tonigan III and former federal prosecutor Thomas McQueen were politically motivated.

Bianchi and his co-plaintiffs also sued Quest Consultants International, a computer forensics company that assisted in the investigation. Also sued are four Quest employees and the Kelleher & Buckley law firm, for whom Tonigan worked.

"The investigations and prosecutions were the product of a conspiracy, initiated by Bianchi's political enemies, to remove Bianchi from office by fabricating false criminal charges and prosecuting Bianchi and his employees for criminal offenses, despite the lack of probable cause or credible evidence to support such charges," according to the federal complaint. "To accomplish this goal, defendants manufactured and fabricated false evidence, concealed exculpatory evidence, presented perjured testimony to a grand jury, and engaged in gross investigative and prosecutorial misconduct. As a result, defendants obtained two highly publicized criminal indictments against Bianchi and a criminal indictment against three of his employees, plaintiffs Joyce Synek, Ronald Salgado, and Michael McCleary, all of which were wholly unsupported by probable cause or credible evidence. The conspiracy crumbled when Bianchi resisted pressure to resign from office and instead proceeded to trial where he and plaintiff Synek were acquitted of all charges by a directed finding, and where the charges against plaintiffs Salgado and McCleary were dismissed by the trial court."

Bianchi claims he ruffled feathers after his election in 2004 by eliminating the abuse of plea bargains; increasing the number of hours of daily work by his employees; refusing to give deals to political operatives, contributors or friends of the previous administration; and by firing employees who were unwilling or incapable of performing their jobs.

Bianchi was indicted by a McHenry County grand jury in September 2010 on 19 felony counts of official misconduct and one felony count 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. But Bianchi says the accusations took a toll.

"The indictments and arrests of Bianchi and Synek were widely covered by print, television, and electronic media throughout the Chicagoland area," the complaint states. "Bianchi was widely described as the first state's attorney in the history of the State of Illinois to be indicted while in office. Based on the indictments and media coverage, Bianchi's political enemies called on Bianchi to resign from office and questioned his ability to continue to serve as state's attorney while under indictment."

Bianchi, who is planning to run for a third term, and his assistants seek more than $1 million in compensatory and punitive damages for false arrest, violation of due process, retaliatory and malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

They are represented by Terry Ekl with Ekl, Williams & Provenzale, of Lisle, Ill.

On Tuesday this week, former McHenry County Assistant State's Attorney Kirk Chrzanowski suedBianchi, his former boss, in Federal Court. Chrzanowski claims Bianchi fired him for testifying to a grand jury that was investigating Bianchi.

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