The suit that had been virtually promised by McHenry County State Lou Bianchi during the two trials brought by Special Prosecutors Henry Tonigan and Thomas McQueen has been filed in Federal Court.
It outlines fifteen counts, which I’ll wade through this afternoon, so keep checking back, and asks for a jury trial.
Joining Bianchi in the 47-page suit are his assistant Joyce Synek and investigators Ron Salgado and Mike McCleary.
Besides Tonigan, McQueen and Quest, the following individuals are named:
- Daniel Jerger
- Robert Scigalski
- James Reilly
- Patrick Hanretty
- Richard Stilling
- Kellerer & Buckley, Ltd., and
- Unknown Conspirators
The plaintiffs charge they were “the victims of politically and financially motivated criminal investigations orchestrated by Defendants.”
“To remove Bianchi from office”
“Fabricating false criminal charges and prosecuting…despite the lack of probable cause or credible evidence.”
More specifically, in a general sense,
- manufacturing and presenting false evidence
- concealing exculpatory evidence
- presenting perjured testimony to a grand jury
- engaging in gross investigative and prosecutorial misconduct
“The conspiracy crumbled when Bianchi resisted pressure to resign from office and instead proceeded to trial…” which resulted in a directed verdict, the introduction continues before pointing out that Bianchi and Synek still “suffered significant and severe permanent damages.”
Next comes an extensive outline of the facts of the case, essentially, a timeline of when what happened. (As I read through it, I think it might be easier to follow if I highlight all of the names.)
It is quite long, but it’s all going up so you can read it the same way the judge and jury will:
Terry Ekl, the man who successfully defended Lou Bianchi is also his attorney on this Federal suit.
Facts Common to All Counts of the Complaint
Background of the Conspiracy to Remove Bianchi from Office
9. In November of 2004, Plaintiff Bianchi was elected State’s Attorney of McHenry County after having previously defeated Glenn Gable in the March 2004 Republican primary.
10. Upon taking office on December 2, 2004, Bianchi promptly began reforming the SAO by inter alia:
(a) Eliminating the abuse of plea bargaining with politically connected defense attorneys;
(b) Increasing the amount of hours that all SAO employees were required to work each day;
(c) Refusing to give special deals to political operatives, contributors, and friends of the previous administration; and
(d) Terminating the employment of SAO employees who were unqualified or unwilling to competently perform their assignments.
11. As a result of these reforms, Bianchi frustrated political operatives in McHenry County who had obtained more favorable accommodations with the previous administration and other McHenry County departments.
12. In March of 2007, Bianchi announced his intention to run for re-election in the November 2008 State’s Attorney’s election.
13. Bianchi was opposed in the February 2008 Republican primary by Daniel Regna, a former assistant state’s attorney (ASA) under the previous administration, whom Bianchi had refused to hire.
14. The 2008 Republican primary campaign between Bianchi and Regna was highly contentious, and sharply divided supporters of Bianchi’s reforms and the political operatives who supported Regna in an effort to return the SAO to its prior mode of operation.
15. Bianchi won the February 2008 primary against Regna, prevailed again in the November general election, and in December of 2008, began his second term as State’s Attorney of McHenry County.
16. After failing in their efforts to legally remove Bianchi from office during the 2008 election, Bianchi’s political opponents initiated a politically motivated conspiracy to override the election and force Bianchi from office. The objective of this conspiracy was to arrest, indict, and publicly smear Bianchi, thereby causing him to resign his office, irreparably tarnish his public reputation, and allow his political opponents to install a State’s Attorney who would do their bidding.
The Manipulation of Amy Dalby and
the Appointment of a Special Prosecutor by Bianchi’s Political Enemies
17. From June 2004 until she resigned in July of 2006, Amy Dalby was employed as a secretary in the SAO.
18. Prior to resigning, Dalby stole approximately 5000 documents from a SAO computer, including confidential and sensitive documents concerning pending investigations and prosecutions.
19. Dalby stole the documents from the SAO at the suggestion of Kristen Foley, an ASA whom Bianchi had demoted from her position as Chief of the Civil Division. In the summer of 2007, Foley began actively working on the political campaign of Bianchi’s 2008 primary opponent, Daniel Regna.
20. In October 2007, Dalby gave the stolen documents to Kristen Foley for use in Regna’s campaign. Foley then disclosed the stolen documents to the media.
21. In November of 2007, Bianchi learned of the theft and petitioned a court to appoint a special prosecutor, independent of the SAO, to investigate, and if necessary, prosecute the responsible individual.
22. In March of 2009, Dalby was arrested and charged with six felony offenses. On or about June 1, 2009, Ms. Dalby pled guilty to computer tampering.
23. In the meantime, on February 23, 2009, in the Circuit Court of McHenry County, Daniel Regna filed a politically motivated petition to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Bianchi, alleging that Dalby performed political work while working in the SAO.
24. Likewise, on April 23, 2009, at the direction and/or with the assistance of Bianchi’s political enemies, Dalby herself filed a petition for appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate her allegation that she performed political work while working in the SAO from December of 2004 until July of 2006.
Gordan Graham, an Associate Judge running for Circuit Judge when this photo was taken.
25. The three year statute of limitation on any allegations made in Amy Dalby’s petition expired no later than July 2009, three years after Dalby left the SAO. Nonetheless, on September 4, 2009, McHenry County Circuit Court Judge Gordon Graham granted Dalby’s petition to appoint a special prosecutor.
26. Judge Graham also granted McHenry County’s Petition to Intervene and allowed the State’s Attorney’s Appellate Prosecutor’s Office to represent the interests of McHenry County in the matter.
27. On September 18, 2009, Judge Graham appointed Defendant Tonigan as a special state’s attorney and appointed Defendant McQueen to “assist” Tonigan.
28. Judge Graham’s order limited Defendants Tonigan and McQueen’s authority to investigating and/or prosecuting Dalby’s allegation that she performed political work at the SAO from December 2004 until July 2006.
29. The court file in the case appointing Defendants Tonigan and McQueen was later sealed and McHenry County, despite having an appearance on file, was not served with notice of a motion to seal the file and was not heard on the matter.
30. Furthermore, Defendants Tonigan and McQueen convinced Judge Graham, in an ex parte fashion, and without any input from McHenry County or its attorney, to compensate each of them at a rate of $250 an hour. This agreement violated 55 ILCS 5/3-9008, which, in order to avoid abuses of the public fisc, prohibits special state’s attorneys from exceeding the compensation of the elected state’s attorney, in a given year.
31. In October of 2009, Defendants Tonigan and McQueen interviewed Dalby and learned, by that time, at the very latest, that the statute of limitations barred any prosecution of Bianchi, or anyone else, for the allegations made by Dalby, even if true.
October-November 2009: Tonigan and McQueen Illegally Expand Their Investigation
32. Despite having a legal obligation to do so, Defendants Tonigan and McQueen did not terminate their investigation in October of 2009. Instead, Defendants Tonigan and McQueen unilaterally began an illegal taxpayer funded investigation into Bianchi and the SAO that grossly exceeded their limited legal authority. Defendants Tonigan and McQueen’s illegal investigation included misrepresenting themselves as special state’s attorneys and interviewing individuals regarding matters that far exceeded the scope of their limited appointment.
Thomas McQueen. Photo credit: First Electric Newspaper.
33. In order to continue the illegal investigation of Bianchi, fabricate a timely charge, and continue billing McHenry County exorbitant fees, in November of 2009, Defendants Tonigan and McQueen sought to expand their investigative authority. In order to conceal their conduct and prevent a challenge to the unwarranted expansion, Defendants Tonigan and McQueen decided not to properly petition the court, as required by Illinois law.
34. Instead, on November 18, 2009, Defendant Tonigan wrote Judge Graham an ex parte letter which, in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, was not sent to the County or its attorney, who had an appearance on file in the case. Tonigan’s letter was written on the letterhead of his employer, Defendant Kelleher & Buckley.
35. In the letter, Defendant Tonigan claimed that he and Defendant McQueen had already interviewed a number of witnesses and based on those interviews asked Judge Graham to “expand the order defining the role of our investigation.”
36. In order to expand his authority and persuade Judge Graham that Bianchi should be investigated for crimes that were not time-barred, Defendant Tonigan’s letter contained the following blatantly false statements regarding Bianchi:
(a) Dalby stated that she trained her successor [Joyce Synek], to perform political work on County time;
(b) There is a likelihood Synek provided secretarial services for Bianchi’s political interests on County time at least until September or October of 2007;
(c) Witnesses provided information about possible illegal acts by Bianchi related to his misuse or theft of County funds; and
(d) A witness indicated that Bianchi utilized County vehicles for his personal and political use.
37. Based upon those false representations, on January 7, 2010, Judge Graham signed an order, provided by Defendant Tonigan, granting Defendants Tonigan and McQueen the authority to investigate and prosecute Bianchi and “any and all persons” relative to any misappropriation or theft from “2005 and thereafter.”
December 2009-May 2010 Investigation: The Special Prosecutors and Quest Investigators Collaborate to Fabricate Evidence
A view of a Quest Consultants International web page.
38. Around December of 2009, Defendants Tonigan and McQueen retained an investigative firm, Defendant Quest, to investigate Bianchi. A billing arrangement was determined and agreed to, on an ex parte basis, by Defendant Tonigan, Defendant Quest, and Judge Graham, without any participation by McHenry County, the entity that was ordered to pay Defendant Quest’s bills. It was determined that each of Defendant Quest’s employees would be billed at an exorbitant rate for police investigators of $135 an hour, with the exception of Defendant Jerger, whose time was to be billed at the unheard of rate of $250 an hour.
39. After being appointed as special investigators, Quest employees, including, but not limited to, Defendants Jerger, Scigalski, Reilly, Hanretty, and Stilling (hereinafter collectively referred to as “Quest Investigators”) participated, with Defendants Tonigan and McQueen, in a wide ranging politically and financially motivated investigation of Bianchi and the SAO.
40. Defendants Tonigan, McQueen, the Quest investigators, and other as yet unnamed co-conspirators, met and agreed, through explicit and/or implicit means, to manufacture and fabricate evidence for the purpose of removing Bianchi from office by charging and prosecuting Bianchi and other SAO employees for criminal offenses, despite the lack of probable cause or credible evidence.
41. In furtherance of that agreement, Defendants Tonigan and McQueen interviewed individuals for the purpose of obtaining rumor and hearsay information to support their predetermined decision to prosecute Bianchi and remove him from office.
42. Defendants Tonigan and McQueen also directed the Defendant Quest Investigators to conduct certain interviews for the purpose of manufacturing and fabricating evidence.
43. The Defendant Quest Investigators represented themselves to witnesses as McHenry County Special Investigators who had been engaged by Defendant Tonigan to conduct an investigation into the official misconduct in the SAO.
44. After conducting interviews, the Defendant Quest Investigators informed Defendants Tonigan and McQueen of information related during the interviews.
45. After consulting with Defendants Tonigan and McQueen, the Defendant Quest Investigators prepared reports regarding certain interviews. In furtherance of their conspiratorial agreement with Defendants Tonigan and McQueen and in an effort to manufacture and fabricate evidence against Bianchi and other SAO employees, the Defendant Quest Investigators knowingly included false and manufactured information in their reports of interviews, to wit:
a) Defendant Scigalski falsely reported that former ASA William Dennison stated that:
i) Bianchi held campaign meetings during working hours that were attended by SAO employees;
ii) Bianchi had an assistant, Jamie Rein, walking around the office selling tickets to his fundraiser; and
iii) Bianchi allowed SAO employees to leave the office early the day of his fundraiser because he wanted attorneys to arrive early.
b) Defendant Scigalski and/or Defendant Reilly falsely reported that former ASA Nichole Owens stated that:
i) Bianchi used SAO employees to attend lunch time “political campaign committee meetings”;
ii) Bianchi’s campaign committee members were responsible for political activities in the SAO; and
iii) Expos (community sponsored public information forums) were used to promote Bianchi and comp time (paid time off) should not have been given to ASAs for attendance.
c) Defendant Reilly falsely reported that former ASA Mary McClellan stated that:
i) Former ASA Michelle Courier ran the Bianchi campaign out of her office.
d) Defendant Scigalski and/or Defendant Stilling falsely reported that ASA Jamie Rein stated that:
i) The entire SAO was asked to attend a Bianchi fundraiser;
ii) She was told her lack of attendance at a fundraiser might affect her career;
iii) Attendance at expos by ASAs was mandatory and the expos were held to provide a political advantage to Bianchi; and
iv) She received comp time for attending a Bianchi’s fundraiser.
46. All of the former and current ASAs described in paragraph 45 (a-d) have confirmed that they did not make any of the statements attributed to them in Defendants’ false reports.
May-August 2010: The Special Prosecutors Engage in Gross Misconduct in Connection With the Special Grand Jury.
47. On April 9, 2010, Judge Graham convened a special grand jury and also appointed, at taxpayers expense, fifteen (15) Quest investigators as agents of the special grand jury, including Defendants Jerger, Scigalski, Reilly, Hanretty, and Stilling.
Henry Tonigan. Photo credit: First Electric Newspaper.
48. After the special grand jury was convened, Defendants Tonigan and McQueen continued to lead the politically motivated investigation by interviewing witnesses personally and directing the Quest investigators who to interview, what questions to ask, and what information to document.
49. The Defendant Quest Investigators served search warrants, subpoenas, and subpoenas duces tecum at the direction of Defendants Tonigan and McQueen. In violation of Illinois law, the special grand jury did not issue or authorize the issuance of these subpoenas, but rather they were unilaterally issued by Defendants Tonigan and McQueen, without the special grand jury’s knowledge or consent.
50. Pursuant to these illegal subpoenas, from May 21, 2010 until October 22, 2010, numerous witnesses produced documents to Defendants Tonigan and McQueen and appeared before the special grand jury to testify.
51. Defendants Tonigan and McQueen engaged in gross misconduct for the purpose of improperly influencing the special grand jury to indict Bianchi and Synek for crimes that were not supported by probable cause, to wit:
a) Defendant McQueen, under the supervision of Defendant Tonigan, improperly testified as a witness to the following unsworn and false statements of fact:
i) that County employees were given “comp time” for attending parades and evening public events which were political in nature;
ii) that Thomas Carroll, a former ASA, was directly told that he was expected to participate in political activities when he was hired as chief of the civil division;
iii) that political pressure was brought to bear on SAO employees during Bianchi’s tenure;
iv) that all of the documents that McQueen presented to the special grand jury, which came from the hard drive of a computer used by Joyce Synek, were political in nature; and
v) that Joan Hoffman, an administrative assistant in the SAO, provided McQueen political documents from her SAO computer.
52. Defendant Tonigan refused to interview Bianchi or allow Bianchi to testify before the special grand jury, despite Bianchi’s requests to do so.
53. Defendant Scigalski falsely testified before the special grand jury that former ASA Nichole Owens told him that:
a) Bianchi assumed and expected that ASAs would do political activities, including attending fundraisers, leaving work early to go to campaign meetings, and marching in parades, for which they received comp time;
b) One of Ronald Salgado’s chief jobs, as the chief investigator for the SAO, was to bring people together for political reasons;
c) Bianchi believed he could give comp time to employees for political work; and
d) Political campaigning was undertaken at Bianchi’s direction by SAO employees.
54. Defendant Scigalski also falsely testified before the special grand jury that SAO employees were given paid time by the County of McHenry for performing political work.
55. Defendant Daniel Jerger deliberately gave misleading testimony and intentionally withheld exculpatory evidence from the special grand jury for the purpose of conveying the false impression that Plaintiff Synek obstructed justice by deliberately deleting documents on a computer after receiving a grand jury subpoena.
56. At the time of that false testimony, Defendant Jerger knew there was no evidence that any document had been deleted from the computer after the issuance of the subpoena. Defendant Jerger also learned that the documents were not recoverable due to a computer virus rather than any wrongdoing by Bianchi or Synek. This information was also known to both Defendants Tonigan and McQueen prior to seeking indictments against Bianchi and Synek based on those accusations.
September 2010: Bianchi and Synek are Indicted and Arrested Without Probable Cause.
57. On or about September 10, 2010, based upon the Defendants’ misconduct as described above, the special grand jury returned an indictment against Bianchi, which was crafted by Defendants Tonigan and McQueen, for Conspiracy to commit official misconduct and obstruction of justice, nineteen (19) counts of Official Misconduct, and Unlawful Communication with a Witness (10 CF 933). None of these 21 counts were supported by probable cause or any competent evidence.
58. On September 10, 2010, based upon the Defendants’ misconduct as described above, the special grand jury returned an indictment against Synek for Conspiracy to commit official misconduct and obstruction of justice, four (4) counts of perjury, and obstruction of justice (10 CF 934). None of these counts were supported by probable cause or any competent evidence.
59. The indictment alleged that Bianchi and Syneck conspired to commit official misconduct and obstruction of justice. There was no evidence presented to the special grand jury that there was any agreement, either explicit or implicit, between Bianchi and Synek to commit either official misconduct or obstruction of justice.
60. The obstruction of justice charge against Synek falsely alleged that Synek, in agreement with Bianchi, deleted certain files after receiving a grand jury subpoena to produce those documents. Defendants knew the charge was false at the time of the indictment.
61. The indictment falsely alleged that Bianchi, in agreement with Synek, committed official misconduct by causing Synek to prepare and maintain certain documents on her County computer. The charges were insufficient on their face, as they failed to allege that Bianchi violated any law. Furthermore, no evidence was presented to the special grand jury that any of the documents that Synek allegedly prepared were actually typed by Synek, that they were typed on a County computer, or that they were typed during County work hours. Likewise, there was no evidence that Bianchi directed Synek to prepare any of the documents on a County computer or during County work hours. At the time the indictment was returned, the Defendant special prosecutors and Defendant Quest investigators knew that no such evidence existed.
62. Defendants Tonigan and McQueen knew that the indictments returned against Bianchi and Synek were not supported by probable cause. The indictments were obtained by Defendants Tonigan and McQueen, in concert with the Defendant Quest Investigators and other as yet unnamed co-conspirators, by first creating and then presenting false and manufactured evidence and statements of law to the special grand jury.
63. As a result of the indictments, a warrant was issued for the arrests of both Bianchi and Synek. On or about September 10, 2010, Bianchi and Synek were both placed under arrest by the McHenry County Sheriff and held in custody at the McHenry County Jail.
64. The indictments and arrests of Bianchi and Synek were widely covered by print, television, and electronic media throughout the Chicagoland area. 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.
65. Despite the concerted efforts by the Defendants and other as yet unnamed co-conspirators, Bianchi refused to resign and continued with his duties as State’s Attorney.
October 2010: Based on the First Indictment Failing to Even State an Actual Offense Against Bianchi, the Special Prosecutors Use Perjured Testimony to Obtain a Superceding Indictment
66. The first indictment failed to allege Bianchi committed an actual underlying crime, which is required to charge official misconduct. Therefore, on October 22, 2010, Defendants Tonigan and McQueen sought a superceding indictment against Bianchi.
67 In order to obtain the superceding indictment, Defendants Tonigan and McQueen fabricated an underlying crime of “theft of labor, services, and use of property” by knowingly presenting the perjured testimony of Defendant Richard Stilling to the special grand jury. Defendant Stilling falsely testified that Peter Austin, the McHenry County Administrator, told him that only the County Administrator could authorize the use of County property for non-county business and that Peter Austin had not given anyone in the SAO such permission. In fact, Peter Austin never made any such statement to Defendant Stilling. Stilling never prepared a report of his interview of Peter Austin.
68. Furthermore, Defendants McQueen and Stilling falsely misrepresented to the special grand jury that the County of McHenry policy manual did not authorize Bianchi to give his SAO employees permission to use a County computer for non-work purposes. Defendant Stilling, as well as Defendants Tonigan and McQueen, knew the manual expressly gave Bianchi such authority. This perjured testimony was presented to the special grand jury by Defendants Tonigan and McQueen for the purpose of securing a corrupt indictment charging that Bianchi committed the crime of theft of County property.
69. Other than the above described testimony of Defendants Stilling and McQueen, Defendants Tonigan and McQueen presented no other evidence or testimony to the special grand jury in support of the superceding indictment.
70. Based on the above described misconduct, the special grand jury returned a superceding indictment against Bianchi and Synek alleging that Bianchi committed the offenses of official misconduct by committing the underlying offense of “Theft of labor, services, and use of property” of McHenry County (720 ILCS 5/16-3). Defendants Tonigan, McQueen, and the Quest Investigators knew that there was no probable cause or competent evidence to support the superceding indictment.
October 2010-March 2011: Defendants Withhold Critical Evidence and Plaintiffs Bianchi and Synek are Acquitted After a Motion for Directed Finding
Judge Joseph McGraw
71. After all of the judges in McHenry County recused themselves from Bianchi and Synek’s criminal cases, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Judge Joseph McGraw, a circuit court judge in the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, to preside over the cases.
72. In furtherance of their conspiracy to prosecute and convict Bianchi and Synek for crimes they did not commit, Defendants Tonigan, McQueen and the Quest investigators deliberately withheld exculpatory evidence, including notes and witness statements, during the prosecutions of Bianchi and Synek.
73. Not until they were twice ordered by Judge McGraw to produce all handwritten notes did Defendant Tonigan and Defendant McQueen finally tender Defendant Jerger’s handwritten notes containing critical witness statements from over ten separate interviews. This untimely disclosure, five days before trial, was intended to prevent Bianchi and Synek from discovering there was no evidence that any document was erased from a computer after a subpoena for those documents was issued and that a computer virus explained why certain documents could not be recovered from the computer, rather than any deliberate act by Synek or Bianchi. This evidence eviscerated the conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges against Bianchi and Synek.
74. By fabricating evidence during the investigation through manufactured interview reports and perjured grand jury testimony, and then concealing the exculpatory evidence which established the falsity of the charges after indictment, Defendants Tonigan, McQueen, and the Quest Investigators forced Bianchi and Synek to remain under indictment for more than six months.
75. The withheld information would have additionally revealed gross investigative and prosecutorial misconduct and perjured testimony before the grand jury, thereby exposing due process violations which would have led to the dismissal of Bianchi and Synek’s indictments prior to trial.
76. On March 23, 2011, after a two day bench trial, Judge Joseph McGraw granted Bianchi and Synek’s Motion for a Directed Finding and acquitted them of all charges. Judge McGraw found that the charges of conspiracy and official misconduct were all fatally defective as they failed to allege essential elements of the offenses and that Defendants McQueen and Tonigan failed to present any evidence to support any of the charges.
After the Special Prosecutor's first charges were dismissed in a Directed Vertict, McHenry County State's Attorney Lou Bianchi and his lead defense attorney Terry Ekl held a press conference outside the Courthouse. From left to right are Tracy Stanker, Bianchi, Ekl, Joyce Synek and Ernest DiBedetto, Synek's attorney.
The Conspiracy to Force Bianchi From Office Continues
77. Shortly after obtaining the first indictment against Bianchi and Synek, Defendants Tonigan, McQueen, and Scigalski began a second illegal and unauthorized investigation of Bianchi, and two of his employees, Plaintiffs Ronald J. Salgado and Michael J. McCleary. This investigation included interviewing witnesses about Bianchi’s handling of criminal cases, which clearly exceeded their authority under the orders signed by Judge Graham appointing Defendants Tonigan and McQueen on September 18, 2009 and January 7, 2010.
78. On October 1, 2010, long after Defendants Tonigan, McQueen, and Scigalski had already begun their second unauthorized investigation, Defendant McQueen filed a verified petition to expand their investigation which contained knowingly false statements regarding Bianchi’s allegedly improper intervention in three criminal cases, to wit:
a) that Bianchi directed an ASA to reduce a plea offer to Ronald Salgado’s nephew (Jeremy Reid) from five to four years;
b) that Bianchi asked an ASA to secure a recognizance bond for one of his relatives (Michael Morzos), a felony defendant, and instructed the ASA to delay the case so his relative could benefit from a diversion program which was not yet operational; and
c) that Bianchi interceded in the case of a defendant (Tom Salvi), who was related to a financial supporter of Bianchi.
79. Defendant McQueen’s misrepresentations in the petition were intended to convince Judge Graham to expand Defendants Tonigan and McQueen’s authority to investigate and prosecute Bianchi and Salgado for crimes they did not commit and further the goal of the conspiracy to tarnish the reputation of Bianchi and drive him from office.
80. Based on Defendant McQueen’s perjured petition, on October 1, 2010, Judge Gordon Graham signed an order appointing Defendants McQueen and Tonigan as special state’s attorneys to investigate and prosecute individuals for using their official position in the SAO to give benefits in criminal prosecutions to friends, relatives, and supporters.
81. In regards to the second investigation, Defendants Tonigan, McQueen and the Quest investigators, and other as yet unnamed co-conspirators agreed, through explicit and/or implicit means, to fabricate evidence for the purpose of charging and prosecuting Bianchi and Salgado with criminal offenses, despite the lack of probable cause or competent evidence to support such charges.
82. Prior to and after October 1, 2010, Defendants Tonigan, McQueen, Scigalski and Hanretty, interviewed several witnesses.
83. Prior to all witness interviews, Defendants Scigalski and Hanretty identified themselves as McHenry County Special Investigators who had been engaged by Special State’s Attorney Henry Tonigan to conduct an investigation into official misconduct in the SAO.
84. The interviews conducted by Defendants Scigalski and Hanretty occurred at the direction of Defendants Tonigan and/or McQueen. After they were completed, the Defendant Quest Investigators informed Defendants Tonigan and/or McQueen of the substance of several interviews.
85. Several witnesses interviewed by Defendants McQueen, Scigalski, and Hanretty provided information that negated the credibility of any accusations against Bianchi and Salgado. Defendants McQueen, Tonigan, and the Quest investigators deliberately ignored and failed to document that exculpatory information.
86. After conducting witness interviews, Defendants Hanretty and Scigalski, in agreement with Defendants Tonigan and McQueen, manufactured and fabricated false inculpatory evidence against Bianchi and Salgado in their reports while failing to properly document exculpatory evidence, to wit:
(a) Defendant Scigalski falsely reported that ASA Demetri Tsilimigras stated that he was directed by Bianchi to present the victim in the Thomas Salvi case with various alternatives to prosecution, one of which was for the victim to accept an apology and an agreement that Thomas Salvi would undergo counseling;
(b) Defendant Scigalski deliberately failed to record ASA Tsilimigras’ actual statement that he was the one who advised Bianchi of the options that could be given to the victim and Bianchi told him that if the victim wanted to proceed to trial, that was to be the end of the discussion;
(c) Defendant Scigalski falsely reported that former ASA Kirk Chrzanowski told him that Bianchi told him that the sentence for Jeremy Reid was to be four years, rather than five years, and that following Reid’s sentencing, the Reid family was greeted at the rear of the courtroom with Bianchi celebrating the sentence;
(d) Defendant Scigalski deliberately failed to report Chrzanowski’s actual statement that Bianchi did not direct him to reduce Jeremy Reid’s sentence to four years and that Bianchi did not have any face to face contact with Reid’s family;
(e) With the knowledge of Defendants Tonigan, McQueen, and Scigalski, Defendant Hanretty intentionally failed to report the statement of Sue Ann Serdar, the president of the Pro-Life Victory PAC, that contributions to Bianchi’s campaign were not in exchange for, or in anyway related to, Bianchi dismissing any charges against Thomas Salvi;
(f) With the knowledge of Defendant McQueen, Defendant Scigalski deliberately failed to prepare an investigative report to document the statement of Philip Weyna, the chairman of the Pro-Life Victory PAC, denying that any contribution was given to Bianchi in exchange for dismissing a case; and
(g) After Defendants McQueen and Scigalski interviewed Philip Hiscock, the former Chief of the SAO’s Criminal Division and ASA Kirk Chrzanowksi’s supervisor during the pendency of the Jeremy Reid case, the Defendants deliberately failed to prepare an investigative report to document Hiscock’s statement that it was he (Hiscock) and not Bianchi who made the decision to offer Jeremy Reid a four year sentence on a plea negotiation.
87. Defendants knew that as a result of the fabricated inculpatory evidence and exculpatory evidence described in paragraph 86(a-g) above, that no probable cause or competent evidence supported any accusation against Bianchi and Salgado alleging interference with any criminal cases.
December 2010 -February 2011: Defendants Again Engage in Gross Misconduct in Connection With the Special Grand Jury.
88. In relation to the second investigation of Bianchi, the Quest Investigators served subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum at the direction of Defendants Tonigan and McQueen. These special grand jury subpoenas, which were issued by Defendant Tonigan and/or Defendant McQueen, were not in fact authorized or issued by the special grand jury, in violation of Illinois law.
89. As a result of the illegal subpoenas that were issued by Defendants Tonigan and McQueen and served by the Quest investigators, between December 3, 2010 and February 24, 2011, witnesses appeared and testified before the special grand jury.
90. When appearing before the special grand jury, Defendants deliberately engaged in misconduct for the purpose of improperly influencing the special grand jury to indict Bianchi and Salgado for crimes that were not supported by probable cause or competent evidence, to wit:
(a) Defendant McQueen, under the supervision of Defendant Tonigan, falsely testified as a witness that Bianchi offered benefits to a few defendants that were not offered to everyone, in contravention of the way the system was supposed to work;
(b) Defendant McQueen, under the supervision of Defendant Tonigan, knowingly presented the deliberately misleading testimony of Defendant Scigalski to the special grand jury concerning the baseless allegation that Bianchi dismissed the Salvi case in return for a campaign contribution from the Pro-Life Victory PAC, which Defendants McQueen and Scigalski knew to be false;
(c) Defendant Scigalski testified falsely before the special grand jury that he had been told by Defendant McQueen that Gwen Salvi, Thomas Salvi’s wife, testified that she had contact with Bianchi through the Pro-Life Victory PAC;
(d) Defendants McQueen and Scigalski, under the supervision of Defendant Tonigan, knowingly presented false testimony to the special grand jury that Bianchi directed an ASA to reduce the sentence of Salgado’s “nephew,” Jeremy Reid, from five years to four years;
(e) Defendants failed to advise the special grand jury that Jeremy Reid was not Ronald Salgado’s nephew or otherwise related to Salgado;
(f) Defendants failed to advise the special grand jury that Michael Morzos was not related to Bianchi; and
(g) Defendants failed to advise the special grand jury that Bianchi was not involved in any decisions related to the disposition of Morzos’ case.
February 2011: Bianchi and Salgado are Indicted and Arrested Without Probable Cause
McHenry County Jail
91. On February 24, 2011, based upon the Defendants’ misconduct described above, the special grand jury returned an indictment against Bianchi for three counts of official misconduct (11 CF 169) based on Bianchi’s alleged intervention in the three criminal cases described above.
92. On February 24, 2011, the special grand jury also returned an indictment against Salgado for official misconduct based on the false accusation that Salgado told an ASA that his nephew, Jeremy Reid, should be given a four, instead of five, year sentence.
93. None of the charges were supported by probable cause or any competent evidence and in fact were directly contrary to the information known to Defendants McQueen, Tonigan, Scigalski and Hanretty.
94. As a result of the indictments, a warrant was issued for the arrest of both Bianchi and Salgado. On or about February 28, 2011, Bianchi and Salgado were both placed under arrest by the McHenry County Sheriff and held in custody at the McHenry County Jail.
95. Salgado’s bond was set at $50,000, requiring Salgado to post $5000 prior to being released from the McHenry County Jail.
February 2011: The Indictment and Arrest of McCleary Without Probable Cause.
96. As an investigator for the SAO, McCleary was required to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and his duties included locating and serving witnesses with subpoenas. As such, McCleary was assigned a McHenry County vehicle.
97. Defendants Tonigan, McQueen and the Quest Investigators began an investigation into McCleary’s personal use of the County vehicle.
98. In relation to their investigation of McCleary, Defendants McQueen and Tonigan deliberately presented misleading evidence to the special grand jurors to create the false impression that McCleary was not authorized to use a County vehicle for personal use when McQueen knew that based on his position and duties, McCleary was in fact authorized to use his County vehicle for personal use.
99. On February 24, 2011, Defendant McQueen, under the supervision of Defendant Tonigan, improperly testified as a witness to the special grand jury by falsely stating that McCleary had asserted his Fifth Amendment rights and refused to answer whether he reimbursed the County for gas mileage or expenses. At the time, Defendant McQueen was fully aware that McCleary was never asked a single question relating to reimbursement to the County for gas mileage or expenses.
100. Defendant McQueen further falsely told the special grand jurors that he had issued a subpoena for any documents which would show that McCleary did reimburse the County for gas mileage or expenses and that no such documents were produced. In fact, no subpoena was issued which called for any such documents.
101. On February 24, 2011, based upon the misconduct described above, the special grand jury returned an indictment against McCleary for official misconduct. The indictment falsely alleged that McCleary committed a theft of the County vehicle assigned to him.
102. As a result of the indictment, a warrant was issued for the arrest of McCleary. On or about February 28, 2011, McCleary was placed under arrest by the McHenry County Sheriff and held in custody at the McHenry County Jail.
Tonigan and McQueen’s Defamatory Statements Further Tarnish the Reputation of Bianchi, Salgado, and McCleary
Home page of the Barrington law firm of Kelleher & Buckley.
103. On February 28, 2011, the Defendant law firm of Kelleher & Buckley, acting through its agent Defendant Tonigan, and Defendant McQueen, issued a press release to the media. In the press release, Defendants repeated the inflammatory allegations contained in the indictments against Bianchi, Salgado, and McCleary, which, as described above, they knew to be false and not supported by probable cause or any competent evidence.
104. On February 28, 2011, Defendants Tonigan, McQueen, and Scigalski also held a press conference. At that time, McQueen, under the supervision and/or direction of Tonigan, again repeated the inflammatory allegations contained in the indictments against Bianchi, Salgado, and McCleary, which, as described above, he knew to be false and not supported by probable cause or any competent evidence. During the press conference, Defendant McQueen also made additional false and inflammatory statements regarding Bianchi, Salgado, and McCleary, to wit:
(a) Defendant McQueen falsely stated that after the return of the first indictment Scigalski received calls from a number of lawyers regarding cases handled by Bianchi and that those cases suggested that the equal protection rights of all defendants were not being upheld because of favoritism;
(b) Defendant McQueen falsely stated that in a case where the defendant was Salgado’s nephew, Salgado called the ASA handling the case and told the ASA that the negotiated plea of five years would be reduced to four years;
(c) Defendant McQueen falsely stated that after being called into Bianchi’s office, the ASA was told that the sentence for Salgado’s nephew would not be a five year period of incarceration but rather it would be four years; and
(e) Defendant McQueen falsely stated that Bianchi instructed an ASA to give his nephew a recognizance bond on a criminal matter.
105. Defendant McQueen and Tongian’s statements in the press release and press conference were defamatory, violated the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, and were made in furtherance of the conspiracy to convict Bianchi, Salgado and McCleary, force Bianchi to resign from office, and tarnish the public’s opinion of Bianchi.
McHenry County State's Attorney begins his press conference after the second directred verdict of not guilty of the criminal charges brought by Special Prosecutors Henry Tonigan and Thomas McQueen.
June-August 2011:Salgado and McCleary’s Cases Are Dismissed by the Court and Bianchi is Acquitted After a Motion for Directed Finding
106. In furtherance of the conspiracy to prosecute and convict Bianchi, Salgado, and McCleary for crimes they did not commit, Defendants Tonigan, McQueen, Scigalski, and Hanretty deliberately and without lawful justification withheld exculpatory evidence, including notes of critical witness interviews and witness statements, during the prosecutions of Bianchi, Salgado, and McCleary.
107. Only after Bianchi filed a Motion to Compel and then a Motion for Sanctions against Defendants Tonigan and McQueen, did the special prosecutors produce the notes prepared by Defendant Hanretty of the interview he conducted of Sue Ann Serdar. However, Defendant Hanretty intentionally excluded from his notes Sue Ann Serdar’s exculpatory statement, in response to a direct question, that Pro-Life Victory did not contribute to Bianchi in exchange for Bianchi dismissing the case against Thomas Salvi.
108. On June 24, 2011, Defendant Scigalski deliberately gave perjured testimony at an evidentiary hearing on a Motion for Sanctions regarding who he spoke to during the investigation and what those individuals told him. This was done in an effort to conceal the identify of the other participants in the conspiracy to charge and prosecute Bianchi, Salgado, and McCleary for crimes they did not commit.
109. By fabricating evidence during the investigation through manufactured interview reports and perjured grand jury testimony and then concealing their wrongdoing after indictment, Defendants Tonigan, McQueen, and the Quest Investigators forced Bianchi to remain under indictment for more than five months.
110. The withheld information revealed gross investigative and prosecutorial misconduct, and perjured testimony before the special grand jury, which if timely disclosed, would have led to the dismissal of Bianchi’s indictment well in advance of trial.
111. On June 3, 2011, Judge McGraw dismissed the charge of official misconduct against Ronald Salgado based on the failure of the charge to state an offense against Salgado.
112. On June 29, 2011, Judge McGraw dismissed the charge of official misconduct against Michael McCleary based on the failure of the charge to state an offense against McCleary.
113. Bianchi’s second bench trial began on August 1, 2011. At trial, Defendant McQueen was assisted by Leone Flosi, an employee of Quest. McQueen falsely represented to Judge McGraw that Flosi was an attorney who was licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois.
114. On August 1 , 2011, immediately prior to the commencement of trial and without any prior notification to Bianchi, Defendant McQueen dismissed the charge against Bianchi which related to the prosecution of Michael Morzos. On August 2, 2011, after a bench trial, Judge McGraw granted Bianchi’s Motion for Directed Finding and acquitted Bianchi of the two remaining charges. Judge McGraw ruled that Defendant McQueen presented no evidence to suggest that Bianchi improperly handled any criminal prosecution or that he committed an offense of official misconduct.
The Conspiracy Between The Special Prosecutors, Quest Investigators, and Other Unnamed Individuals Was Driven By Political and Financial Motivations
115. The improper investigation and prosecution of Bianchi and his employees was initiated by Bianchi’s political enemies, including Daniel Regna, who lost the primary election to Bianchi in 2008.
116. Defendants Tonigan and McQueen’s improper investigation and prosecution of Bianchi, Synek, Salgado, and McCleary took place over a period of 23 months despite the fact that there was never any evidence indicating that Bianchi, Synek, Salagdo, or McCleary committed any crime. Defendants Tonigan and McQueen continued the case for this extended period to allow them to recoup the benefits of a fraudulent billing scheme, which enabled them to bill McHenry County taxpayers outrageous sums of money with no oversight or accountability.
117. Once the Defendant Quest investigators were hired by Defendant Tonigan and appointed as special investigators, they too engaged in fraudulent and excessive billing by overstating the amount of time that was spent on work, performing work that was unnecessary, and persisting in an investigation that was baseless in order to allow the scheme to continue unabated.
118. Defendants Tonigan, McQueen, and the Quest investigators deliberately concealed the results of their investigation which revealed no criminal wrongdoing and instead manufactured evidence so that they could continue to bill McHenry County taxpayers exorbitant sums for unnecessary services.
119. From February 2010 until March 2011, court orders were obtained which required McHenry County to pay Defendants Kelleher & Buckley, McQueen, and Quest specified amounts for their investigation and prosecution of Plaintiffs which were well in excess of what is permissible under Illinois law.
120. In the 14 month period from September 2009 until November 2010, McHenry County was forced to pay Kelleher & Buckley $81,027, Defendant McQueen $103,563, and Defendant Quest $127,668, and is anticipating additional bills from Defendants covering the nine (9) month time period of December 2010 until August 2011, which included the second investigation of Bianchi and both trials which were conducted in March of 2011 and August 2011.
- Fourth Amendment Violation–False Arrest (Conspiracy), Bianchi and Synek’s first arrest
- Fourth Amendment Violation–False Arrest (Conspiracy), Second Arrest of Bianchi and Salgado’s arrest
- Fourth Amendment Violation–False Arrest (Conspiracy), McCleary’s Arrest
- Fourteenth Amendment–Due Process Violations (Conspiracy), First Prosecution of Bianchi and Synek
- Fourteenth Amendment–Due Process Violations (Conspiracy), Second Prosecution of Bianchi
- First Amendment–Retaliatory Prosecution (Conspiracy), First Prosecution of Bianchi and Synek
- First Amendment–Retaliatory Prosecution (Conspiracy), Second Prosecution of Bianchi, Salgado, and McCleary
- State Law Claim–Malicious Prosecution and Conspiracy, First Prosecution of Bianchi and Synek
- State Law Claim–Malicious Prosecution and Conspiracy, Second Prosecution of Bianchi and Salgado
- State Law Claim–Malicious Prosecution and Conspiracy, McCleary’s Prosecution
- State Law Claim, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress and Conspiracy (Louis Bianchi)
- State Law Claim, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress and Conspiracy (Joyce Synek)
- State Law Claim. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress and Conspiracy (Ronald Salgado)
- State Law Claim, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress and Conspiracy, (Michael McCleary)
- State Law Claim, Defamation and Conspiracy, (Louis Bianchi, Ronald Salgado, and Michael McCleary)