The two-day trial of McHenry County Special Prosecutor Thomas McQueen wrapped up yesterday.
Wednesday was dedicated to the presentation of evidence by volunteer prosecuting attorney Terry Ekl that McQueen had deliberately withheld exculpatory evidence in the criminal trials of McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi and his secretary Joyce Synek.
Thursday defense attorney Steve Puizis put defendant McQueen on the stand to tell his version of events.
He elicited McQueen’s education and work experience, as he “follow[ed] in his father’s footsteps.” (His father was eventually Chief Judge of the Lake-McHenry County Circuit Court.)
Asked if there had been previous sanctions or discipline, the answer was “No.”
The attorney seemed to throw the lead Special Prosecutor Henry “Skip” Tonigan under the bus as McQueen revealed it was Tonigan who had ordered a background investigation on Judge Joseph McGraw.
McQueen also revealed that Tonigan had granted “transactional immunity” to former McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney Kristin Foley.
Information that then-First Assistant Tom Carroll provided was in contention. McQueen said that he was Tonigan’s witness.
Pointing out that Tongan had been a judge in Lake County for twenty-two years, Puizis asked if Tonigan had mentioned that emails would have to be turned over. McQueen answered in the negative.
Puizis then raised the issue of “selective prosecution,” pointing out that no complaint had been raised about Tonigan’s activities on the case.
“Mr. Ekl had a financial interest in the underlying case,” Puizis said.
He said he was bringing up the subject in order to make “my record for that.”
Puizis stressed how many emails that McQueen got daily–45.
He also elicited from McQueen that in none of his other case had emails between an attorney and an investigator been produced for the opposing attorney.
Then came a series of denials:
- “I had absolutely no recollection that there was this email.”
- “Did you intentionally withhold that email from the defense in this case?” “No.”
Puizis next brought up that McQueen’s mother was taken to the hospital from an assisted living center during the middle of the trial. Ekl moved to quash the comment.
An email from Regan Shepley, who represented the McHenry County IT Department and its Director Tom Sullivan, mentioned viruses on some of the State’s Attorney’s computers was one that Ekl thought should have been turned over, but was not.
McQueen was asked when he first say emails concerning what Bill LeFew and Sue Lockhart.
“When I received and read the petition filed with this court,” McQueen said.
“Were these produced by Quest [Consultants International]?” Puizis asked
“They were not,” McQueen replied.
A memo concerning what Demetris Tsilimigras was handed over to the attorney for State’s Attorney Micheal McCleary, but not to Ekl.
“Did you intentionally withhold that statement?” Puizis asked.
“I did not,” was McQueen’s reply.
McQueen pointed out that the criminal count for which the missing information might have been helpful to Bianchi was on a count that was dropped. It was the one that accused Bianchi of using comp time for parade duty and use of other office resources for political purposes was
Memos concerning the Pro-Life Victory Committee were a matter of heated contention. Puizis drew from McQueen that his mother died the day of the court controversy.
“Did you intentionally misrepresent or…intentionally withhold [the information]?”
“I did not.”
Missing notes in question were characterized by McQueen as “neither material or exculpatory.”
A quid pro quo situation was being investigated and, although, Sue Serdar had told the Quest investigator that it was a false assumption, McQueen presented the possibility to the Grand Jury to show them “we were running out the ground mole.”
“Did you observe [the investigator] lied [on the stand before Judge McGraw]?”
“Absolutely not. He clearly was confused about the question and the answer.” McQueen said.
One document reporting was Assistant State’s Attorney Jeff Bora said was also withheld.
McQueen told Ekl that Bora would not be a witness the Friday before the August trial.
“Did you remember this part [of the] email?”
“I did not.
“Did you intend to withhold anything?”
“I did not.”
Things were moving so fast at this point. I wrote down,
“We could have shown Bora was a liar,”
which I think Ekl said at some point, but I’m not sure.
It was pointed out that would have been the case only if Bora were a witness.
Puizis asked if McQueen ever asked for a Quest report to be revised.
There were notes about “overheard” McHenry County Jail phone calls from a Quest investigator named Riley that slipped through the discovery cracks.
“Were you aware of any handwritten notes from Riley?”
“I was not.”
Other handwritten notes were produced about conversations with the Crystal Lake Police Chief, Sue Serdar, Phil Wyena, another CL Policeman and two McQueen didn’t remember.
Then the question of whether emails should be considered part of the “handwritten notes” Judge McGraw ordered turned over.
“Did you interpret those emails to be handwritten notes?”
“I did not.”
One of Tom Carroll’s questions was whether Bianchi was allowed to leave the state. Carroll told Quest President, who was McQueen’s contact at the firm, that Bianchi had been seen at a Lake Geneva fund raiser for Ken Koehler.
“Was any of [for the information provided] exculpatory?”
“None of it,” McQueen replied.
Similar questions were asked of other information that Ekl found had not been handed over in his discover in the Federal civil case.
“Did you in good faith attempt to comply with all of Judge McGraw’s orders?”
The Court then was recessed for lunch.
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