It’s been a long time coming, but McHenry County Special Prosecutor Thomas McQueen goes to trial before Winnebago Chief Judge Joseph McGraw in his Winnebago County Courthouse Courtroom Wednesday at 9 AM.
The saga began, some believe, when Dan Regna failed to defeat McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi in the 2008 Republican Primary Election.
Associate Judge Gordon Graham was convinced by Regna and Wes Pribla to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate criminal charges against Bianchi and several staff members for using office resources for political purposes. (It was Pribla’s motion that succeeded.)
Retired Judge Henry Tonigan was the lead prosecutor with former Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas McQueen assisting.
There were two trials, both of which Bianchi and his employees won without even having to put on a defense.
After the exonerations, Bianchi sued Tonigan and McQueen in Federal Court.
Tonigan decided to write a check for $158,000, two-thirds of which went into the McHenry County Treasury in an agreement struck with Bianchi and his attorney Terry Ekl. The other third went to Ekl.
Bianchi filed a motion asking for McQueen and his investigators (Robet Scigalski and his Quest Consultants international), who did not settle in the Federal suit, to be held in indirect contempt of court.
Using a treasurer trove of emails (14,000 pages), Ekl learned that
- repeatedly evidence had not been turned over in a timely fashion
- the investigators’ made false statements in court
The defendants have attempted to get the case dismissed and, then, when that was refused, transferred to another courtroom, which Judge McGraw also denied. The Judge also did not allow an appeal of his decisions.
Ekl volunteered to prosecute the case.
Attorneys for McQueen and the investigators objected, but McGraw decided to allow Ekl to present the evidence.
Ekl is not charging for his services.
Ekl told the court his part of the case would take about four hours.
The maximum penalty is six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.