Mark Gummerson, personal attorney for McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren took over the questioning in the deposition of McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi.
This is the third part of a four-part article concerning that despoliation which Judge Thomas Meyer ordered to try to clear up whether the State’s Attorney was available to prosecute Nygren.
In the room were
- Lou Bianchi,McHenry County States Attorney
- Keith Nygren, McHenry County Sheriff
- Zane Seipler, who filed suit to appoint a Special Prosecutor to probe Nygren’s alleged use of tax dollars for campaign purposes
- Mark Gummerson, personal attorney for Nygren
- Bill Caldwell, Special Assistant State’s Attorney representing County government
- Donna Kelly, Assistant State’s attorney advising Bianchi in the deposition
- Blake Horwitz, attorney for Seipler
Gummerson asks if Bianchi has been sick or absent from his office since Seipler’s petition was filed, conditions that would have prevented him from prosecuting the allegations.
Gummerson: “…unable to attend to your duties..?”
Bianchi (after clarifying the question): “No.”
Gummerson: “…any personal interest in any of the allegations…?”
Horwitz interjects that Judge Thomas Meyer has specifically directed that “personal interest” not be a subject of the deposition.
At this point Kelly asked to speak with her client Bianchi and a short recess ensued.
Resuming, Kelly said her reading of the court order went to “any purported animus” between the State’s Attorney and the Sheriff as opposed to the part of the statute to which Gummerson was referring.
Horwitz pointed out that the Judge had excluded “personal interest” as an issue in the case.
Bianchi’s answer: “To the best of my knowledge, no.”
Horwitz had additional questions at this point.
“If it’s your job to put the bad guys away, then why is it you won’t look into the allegations attributable to Sheriff Nygren that are outline in the petition for the appointment of a special prosecutor?”
Three objections were made and Caldwell advised Bianchi not to answer the question.
Bianchi did not answer the question.
There was some more fencing before Horwitz asked this question:
“Is is accurate to say that it’s part of your job as the State’s Attorney of McHenry County to discern whether or not you can investigate a public official?”
Bianchi: “If the question comes up.”
Horwitz: “In this case has the question come up attributable to Sheriff Nygren?”
Bianchi (after a round of objections): “As I mentioned, when the petition was filed, I read it. I made—I did not look at the merits. I made no decision as to the merits of it, and I made the decision not to investigate based on the reasons I’ve given before.”
After a bit more fencing by the three opposing attorneys, Horwitz phrased a final question: “Did the question come up relative to whether or not a public official should be investigated when you reviewed the petition to appoint a special prosecutor concerning Sheriff Nygren?”
Bianchi: “I don’t recall.’
Trying again, Horwitz asked (with more objections being stated), “Is it part of your job as the McHenry County State’s Attorney to determine whether or not the office of the McHenry County State’s Attorney should investigate or prosecute the sitting Sheriff for McHenry County?”
Bianchi (after more objections): “It is my job to review any allegations against any elected or appointed official.”
Horwitz: “Is it part of your job as well to decide not to investigate or prosecute a sitting official for McHenry County?”
Bianchi: “That may be a decision I come to.”
Horwitz: “Is it also part of your job to choose not to investigate or prosecute the McHenry County Sheriff because you want to avoid conflicts?”
A brief recess in which Kelly conferred with her client Bianchi took place.
Bianchi: “I can’t. It’s too confusing…It’s just I don’t understand it.”
Re-phrased, Bianchi gave substantially the same answer he had since the beginning that he didn’t want to jeopardize the taxpayers’ interests by probing the Sheriff’s Office.