Political Blunder by Tom Carroll Revealed

Tom Carroll

I’m not going to go into details, but one of the exhibits presented by McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi’s defense attorney, Terry Ekl, makes it clear to me that Assistant State’s Attorney Tom Carroll will never be State’s Attorney.

Carroll was the main witness for the prosecution Monday.

Ekl asked if Carroll’s motivation was not vindictiveness (he didn’t use that word) for his demotion from First Assistant to Chief of the Civil Division.

While Carroll admitted that he was quite disappointed with the demotion, he did not concur with Ekl’s assertion that his cooperation with the Special Prosecutor was in the hope that he would end up becoming State’s Attorney.

Ekl countered with what Carroll had told his friend Jerry Majewski to that effect.  Majewski has not testified yet.

Special Prosecutor Henry Tonigan first laid out details of how Carroll has worked on office time

  • answering election questionnaires from area newspapers and electronic media
  • an introduction for County Board Chairman Ken Koehler to use at Biacnchi’s 2007 re-election kick-off
  • helping prepare a letter requesting people to get petition signatures
  • a rebuttal to (Sheriff Keith Nygren supported) Dan Regna’s call for politics and policy to be separated in the State’s Attorney’s Office
  • reviewing a letter to Republicans rebutting Regna’s demand
  • working on a guest editorial for the Daily Herald
  • questions that the Northwest Herald might ask at its joint interview of Bianchi and Regna
  • helping prepare a statement to release when Amy Dalby was expected to enter a plea agreement

The questioning by Special Prosecutor Henry Tonigan, whom I heard not a word from before Carroll’s questioning after lunch, was torturous.

How torturous?

The defense attorney for Bianchi secretary Joyce Synek was heard to say this in the hall:

“One more direct like that and I’m going to plead guilty.”

When Ekl started his cross examination the difference in style, tone and volume was notable.

“Did anyone have a gun to your head when you prepared these questionnaires?”
Ekl asked. “You did it on your own volition, didn’t you?”

“I did it on my own volition,” Carroll answered.

“Are you familiar with your Fifth Amendment rights?” was Ekl’s next question.

“Are you not concerned with not being charged with a crime because you did not believe you engaged in any illegal act?”

Carroll admitted trouble dealing with the double negative, so Ekl rephrased the question: “You don’t think you committed a crime, do you?”

“No,” Carroll replied.

Ekl went through all the meetings and phone conversations with the forces of the Special Prosecutor, then said, “You refused to meet with me to discuss this case.”

“Yeah, you made me mad.”

“I guarantee you’ll be mad at me when I finish (my questioning),” Ekl replied.

“You consider yourself to be an honest and ethical person?” Ekl asked, pointing out that he was McHenry County’s Ethics Officer.

Carroll pointed out that under the new ordinance he wasn’t sure he still held that post.

Tom Carroll was at the kick-off rally for McHenry County State's Attorney Lou Bianchi's re-election kick-off.

Next was a series of questions of whether Carroll had turned over the names of any assistant state’s attorneys to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Board, law enforcement offices to which Carroll agreed that he had not. Ekl pointed out that Carroll had directed his secretary to type political documents.

Bianchi’s attorney pursued a line of questioning regarding the flexible work hours that assistant state’s attorneys work.

“You never felt you cheated the county out of a day?” to which Carroll generally agreed.

“Up until your demotion you were universally singing the praises of Mr. Bianchi?”


You wrote, “I have met very few people as honest and hard-working as Lou Bianchi, true?”


Then, Ekl went into a long line of questioning about Carroll’s use of his office computer for personal purposes.

At one point Ekl observed that an overlap existed between matters that are personal and official in nature in the office.

Specifically, he pointed to the attack by Democratic Party opponent Tom Cynor.

Ekl suggested that “part of the function of the office is to respond to unfair criticism” to which Carroll agreed it was appropriate.

A call from Regna about sign stealing prior to the primary was brought up.

“I didn’t even know Danny knew had my (cell phone) number.”

Ekl characterized the conversation as Regna’s threatening a sign war.

It seems that Regna’s Local 150 of the Operating Engineers supporters were angry with Lou, the 100 or so union guys out putting signs up throughout the county.

“Part of the State’s Attorney’s job is to engage in politics,” Ekl observed to which Carroll agree.

Tonigan had made a big deal about Management Team meetings.

Ekl asked if the majority “with possibly two exceptions” had been held at lunch time.

“The majority of them, yes,” Carroll agreed.

“Lou would provide lunch,” Ekl added.

“You certainly didn’t think any of you cheated the county out of a full day’s work?” Ekl asked to which Carroll indicated that was a valid statement.

With regard to the prepping of Bianchi for the Northwest Herald Editorial Board engagement with Regna, Ekl characterized it as finding “the best way to tell people of the great achievements your staff had made on behalf of the people.”

There was talk about a memo to staff members stating what was acceptable and what wasn’t: “No campaigning in the office.”

Carroll indicated he worked on it.

The subpoena for “political documents” from the Grand Jury was discussed.

“Vague at best,” Ekl characterized it.

“I do think there’s a gray area,” Carroll agreed.

Carroll said in his discussion of the items to be turned over in reply to the subpoena that Bianchi “indicated that it would be a passive admission that they were political.”

Ekl talked of the Expo documents. “He didn’t think they were political…, but told you to do what you have to do.”

“There was not much of a disagreement, (right)? He wasn’t threatening you or anything like that?

“No, he wasn’t threatening me,” Carroll replied.

There was discussion of a memo telling employees they could attend the annual August fundraiser for $15 and an assistant went around assuring assistants that they didn’t have to attend.

Elk pointed out that Carroll had used office resources to wind up his private practice, help his family, accounting matters with CPA Mary Miller, an appraisal, a eulogy for his mother, online purchases and payments, travel planning, internet usage “for personal enjoyment,” etc.

With regard to whether Circuit Court judicial candidate Gordon Graham sent him a fund raising letter, Carroll said, “I’ve seen this, but I don’t believe I got one at work.”

On re-direct, Tonigan elicited that managers’ meetings were held more often as the election approached.


Political Blunder by Tom Carroll Revealed — 13 Comments

  1. Well “you may want…” the problem would be that Bianchi would need to be the guy to fire him. The issue for Bianchi is that he needs to convince people that Carroll is lying…If all of Carroll’s “admissions” are true then Bianchi is guilty. Quite the catch-22 for Bianchi as his boss.

  2. Let’s see – Carroll is the guy that Keith Nygren referred to as a fine attorney in the SA’ s office. He does a great job (NWH video for primary election). Nygren supported Regna for SA. Tom Carroll’s car used by Gordon Graham in parades. Gordon Graham and Nygren sharing a slot in at least one parade. Hmmmmmmm. Just saying.

  3. Let’s see – Carroll is the guy that Keith Nygren referred to as a fine attorney in the SA’ s office. He does a great job (NWH video for primary election). Nygren supported Regna for SA. Tom Carroll’s car used by Gordon Graham in parades. Gordon Graham and Nygren sharing a slot in at least one parade. Hmmmmmmm. Just saying.

  4. Did the double-negative really end up trapping Tom Carroll? Did Ekl trap him, so that either a “Yes” or “No” answer would work against Carroll?

    When Ekl asked Carroll, “You don’t think you committed a crime, do you?” (in clarification of a previous convoluted, double-negative question), Tom Carroll answered “No”. He should have avoided both “Yes” and “No”. He should have answered the question without using “Yes” or “No”.

    When Carroll answered “No”, did he mean, “No, I do not think that I don’t think I committed a crime”?

    Thus, did he really say that he thinks he committed a crime? Will Ekl bring that around one more time?

  5. Cal Thanks for the wonderful coverage. You do not see this in the newspapers.

  6. So this is because Lou wouldn’t play ball with the other guys.

    How sad, maybe this will catch all of those who use their office for things other than work.

  7. Sounds like they may of shot themselves in the foot.

    Key witness lied about what went on. Surprise, Surprise.

    Maybe when this is all said and done, Lou will clean office of all the back stabbers and liers.

    I know from personnal experience that there is one person in that office that knows the law.

    When I ran for Burton Township Highway commissioner I called the SA Office because the Highway commissioner had put signs in front of the Township Highway yard to campaign.

    And at that time was told it was illegal for them to do so.

    And the SA’s Office called them to say they had to remove it.

    What part of, you can’t campaign on government grounds do they not understand? Especially during work hours. That is part of the State ethics test.

    If you can’t put up political signs on government grounds to campaign why would they feel they can write letters and other things.

  8. They may not have been written there. Dalby was a campaign volunteer. Given work. She could have done it at home and transferred the info into the county computer. Or, done it on personal time. You can prepare (type up original) a doc, and later put in into a file creation. There is no proof that they were done on the county dime.
    Also, I just found out that she worked for Gary Pack and Lou kept her on when he took office. She worked for Glen Gable and Kristen Foley (one of them that got her into the mess). Foley was demoted by Lou and she left.

  9. I’m so glad that the judge saw through all this and dismissed the charges against Lou and Joyce.

    I still would like to know the names of the lawyers who use to get the county cases before Lou took over – they lost a lot of money when this happened so I’m very suspicious of the involvement they have had over the past few years.

  10. In regards to Carroll using the office to get personal things done…..really? Who doesn’t check their email during the day or look at Facebook during lunch? You are going to punish him for working on a eulogy for his mother who just died?! Talk about nit-picking! Stop wasting my tax dollars on lawyers who are pointing out things that majority of people do and spend it on something more worth while.

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