Watchdog Seeks Records on Alleged Cover-Up

     CHICAGO (CN) – Claiming that local agencies are stonewalling requests for records on the manslaughter investigation of former Mayor Richard Daley’s nephew, a watchdog has filed a federal complaint.
     The case stems from an involuntary-manslaughter plea that Daley’s nephew, Richard Vanecko, reached last year. Vanecko’s plea stipulated that he will spend 60 days in jail, 30 months on probation, pay $20,000 restitution, and apologize to the mother of a 21-year-old he killed with a single punch a decade earlier after a verbal altercation.
     On the heels of a lawsuit that the mother filed against Chicago police, accusing them of a coverup, Better Government Association filed suit last week in the Cook County Chancery Court.
     The March 12 complaint names as defendants the Chicago Mayor’s office, the Office of the Special Prosecutor, the Chicago Police Department and others that have allegedly stonewalled the watchdog’s attempts to get to the bottom of the case.
     Better Government Association says it filed Freedom of Information Act requests in the wake of Vanecko’s plea, seeking records documenting who was interviewed about the case, and copies of all statements made by members of the Daley family. These requests were allegedly denied, however, with little or no legal basis.
     “The Illinois Criminal Code does not specifically prohibit the production of information about an investigation or the payment of fees to a prosecutor or special prosecutor using public funds,” the association says. “This is clear from the plain text of the Criminal Code, and any contrary rule would result in a lack of public oversight of investigations undertaken by prosecutors, a result that cannot be reconciled with the text or purpose of FOIA as articulated in numerous decisions of Illinois courts and the statute itself.”
     It asks the judge to order defendant to produce the requested records and to pay civil penalties for violating the FOIA in bad faith.
     The association is represented by Matthew Topic of Loevy & Loevy in Chicago.
     In her complaint last year, Nanci Koschman had described the blow that killed her son, David, as “devastating.”
     ” One witness described hearing a ‘snap’ sound as the punch was landed,” the complaint states. “A bystander who was not with either group said that Koschman came flying out from among the arguing groups as if from an ‘explosion,’ and landed like a dead weight, apparently already unconscious. Vanecko’s blow caused David Koschman’s lip to swell and bleed, leaving blood on his teeth and lip, and in his mouth.”
     Koschman said her son’s head hit the pavement, fracturing his skull in multiple places, and he never regained consciousness.
     Despite the fact an alleged crime occurred, the police investigation of the incident ended just hours after it began, and the detectives allegedly fabricated evidence indicating that David was the aggressor.

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