County Compares Potential Costs to Benefits and Decides to Pay $275,000 to Bianchi’s and Synek’s Attorneys

Without admitting liability, the McHenry County Board voted 18-3 to pay Terry Ekl and Ernest DiBenedetto $275,000 to settle claims of over $600,000 in legal fees and expenses to defend State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi and his assistant Joyce Synek.

Nick Provenzano explains that the agreement was approved "to save money." County Board Chairman Ken Koehler sat next to him at a post-meeting press conference.

Lou Bianch attorney Terry Ekl

That is $5,000 less than the $280,000 that Ekl requested in September of last year.

“It represents action by this County Board to save money,” Law and Justice Committee Chairman Nick Provenzano observed.

The payment, to be made within ten days, is “for full and final satisfaction if all legal fees, costs and expenses” related to the

Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Daniel L. Jasica

case brought by Henry Tonigan and Thomas McQueen in their capacities as Special Prosecutors appointed by then-Associate Judge Gordon Graham.

The settlement document and release does not, however, “release, acquit or discharge any claims against the Special State’s Attorneys” (Tonigan or McQueen) “or Quest Consultants International, or its employees.”

Should such a civil suit be successful, Bianchi and Synek agree to pay the County up to $275,000. Unless awarded legal fees, the two would deduct out-of-pocket expenses and one-third of attorneys’ fees.

Should Bianchi and Synek sue those involved in the two prosecutions, which were so poorly presented that they both resulted in directed verdicts, the two agree not to pursue any liability against county taxpayers or its insurers.

Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Daniel J. Jasica will represent McHenry County’s interests. Such cross-county representation when there is a conflict of interest is not new to the two counties. There will be no charge for Jasica’s service.

The vote on the agreement was 18-3.

Paul Yensen

Kathy Bergan Schmidt

The two Democrats, Paula Yensen and Kathy Bergan Schmidt, plus retiring Republican Marc Munaretto, were the “No” votes. Absent from the meeting were Randy Donley and John Hammerand. Barb Wheeler left during the closed session prior to the time the Board voted in open session.


County Compares Potential Costs to Benefits and Decides to Pay $275,000 to Bianchi’s and Synek’s Attorneys — 6 Comments

  1. What is this business about walking out before a vote?

    This happens too often by Wheeler and others.

    You still represent some population.

    This sounds like Obama type moves.

    He voted “present” so many times it probably is a record.

    Anyone who does that does not deserve a seat on the county board or any where else.

  2. Did Bianchi formally ask for a public defender when charges were first filed against him?

    Why is the public paying for a private attorney when a cheaper one could have been assigned to him if he had asked for one?

    Shouldn’t any payment be limited to the amount it would have cost for a public defender – like say the cost for someone from the IL AG’s office to represent him?

    On the other hand, doesn’t the County carry liability insurance to cover stuff like this?

  3. Someone should explain the use of the “public defender” to TrueMan.

    I understand that this is confusing, but it should be made clear that these, Bianchi fees, were made necessary by false accusations by yet unidentified parties and not by Lou Bianchi.

    It’s the Plaintiff and cohorts who are responsible for the expense to all parties, and the emotional and physical damage to people and their families.

    Hopefully, this, the perpetrators’ names, will be borne out in the months to come.

  4. FYI, your comment is priceless, no matter what the content of the article, somehow blame our black president (stay classy).

    TrueMan: The county got lucky. The county should pay the full boat defense of one of it’s officers, when that officer is found not guilty. Not only should the county be on the hook for 700K, but they and the special prosecutors should be sweating a 5 million dollar wrongful prosecution lawsuit. (I have no opinion who would have prevailed).

    Annonymous: Ummm, no. Our system does not provide for “Loser Pays.” And as I said above it is not certain that Bianchi would prevail, but it is certain that he would have had a case that the county board would have had to sweat nearly unlimited liability, i.e., deed the courthouse to Bianchi if you lose.

  5. Wrongful Prosecution?

    Since when does a “not guilty” = “wrongful proscecution” ??

    If Bainchi and Ekl wanted to pursue that they they should have filed a suit.

    It would have gone no where. Was he going to sue the grand jury that indicted him, too?

    Judge Mcgraw clearly issued a “warning” to Bianchi that he must separate political and professional duties.

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