Bianchi, Synek Acquitted of All Charges

In a photo opportunity while Judge Joseph McGraw withdrew to consider defense motions to dismiss the case, lawyers and clients came out of the McHenry County Courthouse, wherer cameras are not allowed. From left to right are Louis Bianchi assistant attorney Tracy Stanker, Bianchi, Bianchi lawyer Terry Ekl, Bianchi assistant Joyce Synek and Synek attorney Ernest DiBenedetto.

The politically motivated trial of McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi and his assistant Joyce Synek ended in an acquittal for each on all counts.

Judge Joseph McGraw, brought in from Winnebago County to try the case, issued the half-hour oral decision Wednesday afternoon after hearing two and a half days of evidence presented by Special Prosecutor Henry Tonigan and his assistant Thomas McQueen.

McGraw approved a motion for a verdict of not guilty before any evidence was offered by Bianchi defense attorney Terry Ekl.

Ekl offered a detailed motion for a directed verdict, contending that the indictment by the Special Prosecutor was severely flawed and the evidence presented inadequate.

After a 130 minute lunch break, McGraw found Bianchi not guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and official misconduct related to charges that he used the State’s Attorney’s Office for political purposes.

His assistant was found not guilty of similar charges, as well as having perjured herself in Grand Jury testimony.

Bianchi did not get off without a lecture from the judge, however.

The judge noted that the Special Prosecutor was “looking for a bright line between political and non-political (work) in the office.

“I do agree with the standard of absolute separation of political duties and official duties,” McGraw said looking at Bianchi, who was sitting at the defense table in front of him.

“You have to be extremely cautious. You as State’s Attorney are vested with such authority and discretion.  (It is) paramount that the public has absolute confidence (in your office).  (You must be) above reproach.

Presumably referring to the use of office personnel to respond to a December 2007 campaign attack from Sheriff Keith Nygren-backed Dan Regna. as well as staff preparation of Bianchi for editorial interviews with the Northwest and Daily Heralds, McGraw said,

“I do not think the State’s Attorney should be hamstrung from being able to defend his office, even if it is during an election.”

The Rockford jurist did call for more scrutiny to prevent political activities in the office.

“How you do your duties must be above reproach. What you do must not contain a hint of impropriety. Strenuous efforts must be made by you to (avoid impropriety).

“I agree with Mr. Tonigan and Mr. McQueen that there should be a bright line between political official (duties). I cannot condone any (misuse of office resources).

“However,” McGraw concluded, “evidence does not demonstrate any crimes have been committed on all criminal counts,” as he dismissed the Special Prosecutor’s case.

During the morning, Nichole Owens, former Chief of the Criminal Division, testified that she helped in Bianchi’s 2008 campaign for re-election, but did her work at home.

Asked why, she worked for Bianchi, she agreed with Ekl on cross examination that she did so because she wanted to.

“I was appalled at some of the case dispositions that took place under the prior administration of Gary Pack.”

At this point Tonigan objected, but was overruled by the Judge.

Asked if she worked eight hours the days of Management Team meetings, usually, but not always held at lunch time, Owens responded, “I worked more than eight hours every day.”

Owens was also asked Synek’s role in the campaign.

“She would prepare baked goods for the fund raisers.”

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Some background that might be of interest:

Republicans at War – A Re-Run

On April 1st, Associate Judge Thomas Meyer will hear Sheriff Keith Nygren’s primary opponent Zane Seipler’s motion that Nygren used his office for political purposes. Bianchi has written that he will not do such an investigation.

Here are some tea leaves from the last hearing of the request for a Special Prosecutor.


Bianchi, Synek Acquitted of All Charges — 13 Comments

  1. Nobody could have called this result before the judge ruled….Oh wait, I did in an earlier post.

    It’s not that hard to be right, every single time.

  2. and now the county is on the hook for Lou’s legal fees; what a terrible waste this has all been

  3. Okay “another lawyer” what says your ‘crystal ball’ is up next for McHenry County.

    Any other Indictments on the horizon on any other elected official/officials?

  4. The “special” prosecutor and cronies showed how incompetent they are about pursuing “justice” but likely don’t care since they got to personally cash in for making themselves publicly look like jackasses.

    Maybe the County Board will have enough political spine to approve a “They are Selfish Jackasses” resolution.

  5. Boy, that was worth the expense and effort! Such a good case that the defense only had to sit and object to prosecutors.

    Can you say “egg on face”, anti-Bianchi fans?

    More baseless empty words, “you may want to know”. What about your cronies?

  6. Crystal Ball says: There aren’t any indictments on the horizon, but it says next election cycle is cloudy for many candidates….

    Why can’t this thing speak in English?

  7. Hopefully these politicians can get their axes buried deep in the ground and get past this BS and do what they were elected to do which is “serve the people.” This folly cost the taxpayers HUGE dollars because they get charged at LAWYER hourly rates. If the AG or Fed’s don’t want it, then why pursue it and cost the taxpayers?

    ANYONE that thinks that elected officials DON’T use county time and county workers to do some poilitical election work is either stupid or naive. That’s a fact of life. Live with it. We are looking more and more like CrOOK county everyday.

  8. The court system is rigged. Anyone who has been there already knows this. Stay out of the courts, it is a monstrous huge waste of your precious time and resources.

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