Lou Bianchi’s Case against Those Who Persecuted Him – Part 1

Yes, I used the word “persecuted” in the headline, rather than “prosecuted.”

This case charges, accurately, I believe, that Bianchi and his staff members who were criminally charged were “victims of politically and financially motivated criminal investigations and prosecutions,” as the court documents charge, “…the product of a conspiracy, initiated by Bianchi’s political enemies, to remove Bianchi from office.”

Naturally, the language used in the case reflects most favorably upon the Bianchi side of the fight.

With the $157,500 settlement by Special Prosecutor Henry Tonigan in the suit brought by McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianahi and his employees, it seems to me that the court filing by his attorney Terry Ekl deserves to be easily found.

I have the feeling that the document will be referenced more than once in the coming months.  That’s the nature of the beast.

In the terms of the media, this story “has legs.”

For that reason, I am going to post about ten pages a day of the 47-page filing.

Below are the first ten pages. I apologize in advance for the formatting problems.  I have added paragraphs to make it easier to read on your screen.  I have also added formatting to make it easier to read.  Where there were lists identified by letters, I have changed them to number because the program I use does not format in letters.

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS,
EASTERN DIVISION
LOUIS A. BIANCHI,
JOYCE A. SYNEK,
RONALD J. SALGADO, and
MICHAEL J. McCLEARY
Plaintiffs,
v.

No.: 12-cv-00364

Judge Elaine E. Bucklo
Magistrate Judge Nan R. Nolan

HENRY C. TONIGAN, III,
THOMAS K. MCQUEEN,
DANIEL JERGER,
ROBERT SCIGALSKI,
JAMES REILLY,
PATRICK HANRETTY,
RICHARD STILLING,
QUEST CONSULTANTS INTERNATIONAL, LIMITED, an Illinois Corporation,
KELLEHER & BUCKLEY, LLC, an Illinois Limited Liability Company, and<
UNKNOWN COCONSPIRATORS
Defendants.

FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Lou Bianchi speaking at his August, 2011, fund raiser, held shortly after he and his employees were exonerated from all the criminal charges brought against them.

The Plaintiffs, Louis A. Bianchi, Joyce A. Synek, Ronald J. Salgado, and Michael J. McCleary, by and through their attorneys, Ekl, Williams, & Provenzale LLC, complain of the Defendants, Henry C. Tonigan, III, Thomas K. McQueen, Daniel Jerger, Robert Scigalski, James Reilly, Patrick Hanretty, Richard Stilling, Quest Consultants International, Limited, an Illinois
corporation, and Kelleher & Buckley, LLC, an Illinois limited liability company, as follows:

INTRODUCTION

This action is brought pursuant to the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and under Illinois State Law. Plaintiff Louis A. Bianchi, the State’s Attorney of McHenry County (hereinafter “Bianchi”), and three of his employees were the victims of politically and financially motivated criminal investigations and prosecutions orchestrated by Defendants Henry C. Tonigan, III and Thomas K. McQueen, in their roles as taxpayer funded special state’s attorneys in McHenry County, in concert with their co-Defendant private investigators, acting as special state’s attorney investigators.

The investigations and prosecutions were the product of a conspiracy, initiated by Bianchi’s political enemies, to remove Bianchi from office by fabricating false criminal charges and prosecuting Bianchi and his employees for criminal offenses, despite the lack of probable cause or credible evidence to support such charges.

To accomplish this goal, Defendants manufactured and fabricated

  • false evidence,
  • concealed exculpatory evidence,
  • presented perjured testimony to a grand jury, and
  • engaged in gross investigative and prosecutorial misconduct.

As a result, Defendants obtained two highly publicized criminal indictments against Bianchi and a criminal indictment against three of his employees, Plaintiffs Joyce Synek, Ronald Salgado, and Michael McCleary, all of which were wholly unsupported by probable cause or credible evidence.

The conspiracy crumbled when Bianchi resisted pressure to resign from office and instead proceeded to trial where he and Plaintiff Synek were acquitted of all charges by a directed finding, and where the charges against Plaintiffs Salgado and McCleary were dismissed by the trial court.

Despite Defendants’ failure to force Bianchi from office, Plaintiffs suffered significant severe and permanent damages based on the constitutional and state law violations that resulted from Plaintiffs’ unlawful arrests, indictments, and prosecutions.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

1. This Court has original jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and §1343(a)(3), as the federal claims are brought under 42 U.S.C. §1983. Venue is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1391(b), as all or some of the parties reside in the Northern District of Illinois and the events giving rise to the claims occurred in this district. The Court has supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1367(a).

Joyce Synek

THE PARTIES

2. The Plaintiff, Louis A. Bianchi, is a resident of the Northern District of Illinois. At all times relevant, Bianchi has been the elected State’s Attorney of McHenry County. Bianchi brings this action in his capacity as a private citizen.

3. The Plaintiff, Joyce A. Synek, is a resident of the Northern District of Illinois. At all times relevant she was employed as an Executive Administrative Assistant to Bianchi.

Ron Salgado

Michael McCleary

4. The Plaintiffs, Ronald J. Salgado and Michael J. McCleary, are residents of the Northern District of Illinois. At all times relevant, they were employed as investigators for the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office (hereinafter “SAO”).

5. The Defendants, Henry C. Tonigan, III and Thomas K. McQueen are residents of the Northern District of Illinois.

At all relevant times they were attorneys, appointed as a taxpayer funded McHenry County special state’s attorney and an assistant to the special state’s attorney, respectively, and were acting under the color of law and with the same power and authority as a duly elected state’s attorney with respect to matters committed to their discretion.

This action is brought against Tonigan and McQueen in their individual capacities.

Thomas McQueen, Henry Tonigan and Robert Scigalski. Photo credit: First Electric Newspaper.

6. The Defendant, Kelleher & Buckley, LLC, at all relevant times was an Illinois limited liability company doing business as a law firm in the Northern District of Illinois. At all relevant times, Tonigan was employed as an attorney by Kelleher & Buckley and was acting within the scope of his employment and/or agency.

7. The Defendant, Quest Consultants International, Limited (hereinafter “Quest”), at all relevant times was an Illinois corporation doing business in the Northern District of Illinois. At all relevant times, Quest and its employees were retained by Tonigan and McQueen as taxpayer funded special investigators to the special state’s attorney. As such, Quest and its employees acted under the color of law and with the authority and power to exercise police powers and conduct criminal investigations.

8. The Defendants, Robert Scigalski, Daniel Jerger, James Reilly, Patrick Hanretty, and Richard Stilling, at all relevant times were employees of Quest, retained by Tongian and McQueen as taxpayer funded special investigators to the special state’s attorney, and appointed by the Circuit Court of McHenry County as agents and investigators of the special grand jury. As such, these Defendants acted under the color of law, with the authority and power of peace officers, and within the scope of their employment with Quest.

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

Although Dan Regna filed a motion asking for the appointment of a Special Prosecutor, it was one filed on behalf of Amy Dalby which set into motion the chain of events outlined in this court filing.

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.

Associate Judge Gordon Graham campaigning at the McHenry County Fair for Circuit Court Judge in 2010.

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.

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.

33. In order to continue the illegal investigation of Bianchi, fabricate a timely charge, an 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:

  1. Dalby stated that she trained her successor [Joyce Synek], to perform political work on County time;
  2. There is a likelihood Synek provided secretarial services for Bianchi’s political interests on County time at least until September or October of 2007;
  3. Witnesses provided information about possible illegal acts by Bianchi related to his misuse or theft of County funds; and
  4. 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

From the Quest Consultants International web site.

38. Around December of 2009, the Defendant law firm of Kelleher & Buckley, acting through its agent Defendant Tonigan, 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, 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/or McQueen, in a wide ranging politically and financially motivated investigation of Bianchi and the SAO.

40. Defendants Tonigan and/or McQueen, along with Defendant 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/or 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/or 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/or McQueen of information related during the interviews.

More tomorrow.


Comments

Lou Bianchi’s Case against Those Who Persecuted Him – Part 1 — 5 Comments

  1. McQueen and Graham are starting to appear as the real scoundrals in this case.

    They clearly were motivated to destroy the lives of good people and do so with no evidence.

    There really is one question: Why did they act to foolishly?

    The best answer I have: Judge Graham and Tom McQueen are simpletons.

    Frankly, they really are quite stupid.

    But what would motivate such chumps to do such an evil thing?

    For McQueen is was probably the extortion of taxpayers money for at least part of his motivation; for Graham, I am not that sure.

    Graham is too much of a twit to have that much in his brain.

    Are they both such lap-dogs to Nygren that they would put their own already poor careers in further jeapardy and now potentially face losing their license?

    Help me understand?

  2. It has just been plain ugliness at the county level with all these personal grudges being aired out on the taxpayer dollars.

    At least Bianchi had the means to afford a defense went he went after his secretary with the 7 felony charges that would never stick she was not in the position to afford to fight and had to settle for a tampering charge to make the persecution go away.

  3. I no longer live in the county and do not have all the facts with respect to this matter, but I question the wisdom of this suit.

    County officials where I now live have pissed away millions of dollars (taxpayer money) going tit for tat on perceived and real slights (and there is no end in sight).

    Even accepting all of Mr. Bianchi’s allegations as true, I would ask, at what point should an elected official put the good of the county (taxpayer) ahead of himself?

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