Please refer to Part 1 for the introduction to this series of posts that contain attorney Terry Ekl’s First Amended Complaint of McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi, et al, against Special Prosecutors Henry Tonigan, Thomas McQueen, Quest International Consultants, et al.
Each day there will be about ten pages of the complaint put up so people can reference it during what I believe could well end up being an explosive case exploring the underbelly of McHenry County Republican politics.
Part 2 focuses on approximately page 11-20 beginning with paragraph 45.
45. After consulting with Defendants Tonigan and/or McQueen, the Defendant Quest Investigators prepared reports regarding certain interviews. In furtherance of their conspiratorial agreement with Defendants Tonigan and/or 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:
- Bianchi held campaign meetings during working hours that were attended by SAO employees;
- Bianchi had an assistant, Jamie Rein, walking around the office selling tickets to his fundraiser; and
- 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:
- Bianchi used SAO employees to attend lunch time “political campaign committee meetings”;
- Bianchi’s campaign committee members were responsible for political activities in the SAO; and
- 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:
- 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
- The entire SAO was asked to attend a Bianchi fundraiser;
- She was told her lack of attendance at a fundraiser might affect her career;
- Attendance at expos by ASAs was mandatory and the expos were held to provide a political advantage to Bianchi; and
- 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.
48. After the special grand jury was convened, Defendants Tonigan and/or 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
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 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 improperly testified as a witness to the following unsworn and false statements of fact:
- that County employees were given “comp time” for attending parades and evening public events which were political in nature;
- 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;
- that political pressure was brought to bear on SAO employees during Bianchi’s tenure;
- 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
- that Joan Hoffman, an administrative assistant in the SAO, provided McQueen political documents from her SAO computer.
52. Defendant Tonigan was present when Defendant McQueen made the unsworn and false statements of fact, identified in paragraph 51. Defendant Tonigan either knew that Defendant McQueen’s statements were false or Defendant Tonigan incorrectly believed that Defendant McQueen was relating truthful information that he learned during his investigation.
53. Defendant Scigalski falsely testified before the special grand jury that former ASA Nichole Owens told him that:
- 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;
- One of Ronald Salgado’s chief jobs, as the chief investigator for the SAO, was to bring people together for political reasons;
- Bianchi believed he could give comp time to employees for political work; and
- 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.
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, 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.
62. After a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery, there likely will be evidentiary support that Defendant Tonigan was responsible for determining what charges to bring against Bianchi and Synek.
Defendant Tonigan either
- deliberately ignored the fact that the charges were not supported by probable cause or
- Defendant Tonigan, in making his charging decisions,unknowingly relied upon false and manufactured evidence and witness statements created by Defendant Quest Investigators and/or Defendant McQueen during the investigation.
63. The indictments returned against Bianchi and Synek were not supported by probable cause. The indictments were obtained after Defendant Quest Investigators, in concert with Defendant McQueen and/or Tongian, and other as yet unnamed co-conspirators fabricated false evidence and witness statements during their sham investigation.
64. 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.
65. 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.
66. Despite the concerted efforts by the Defendants and other as yet unnamed coconspirators, 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, a Manufactured Witness Statement is Used to Obtain a Superceding Indictment
67. The first indictment failed to allege Bianchi committed an actual underlying crime, which is required to charge official misconduct. Therefore, Defendant Quest Investigators, in concert with Defendant McQueen and/or Defendant Tonigan, resumed their investigation for the purpose of fabricating evidence that Bianchi committed an underlying crime of “theft of labor, services, and use of property.”
68. To accomplish that result, on October 21, 2010, Defendant Richard Stilling interviewed Peter Austin, the McHenry County Administrator. During that interview, Peter Austin informed Defendant Stilling that elected county officials, such as Bianchi, had discretion to authorize the use of county property for personal use. Peter Austin also referred Defendant Stilling to the County of McHenry Personnel Policy Manual which granted elected officials such authority. Peter Austin’s statement to Defendant Stilling negated any possibility that Bianchi or Synek committed the offenses of conspiracy or official misconduct.
69. After the interview with Peter Austin, Defendants Stilling and McQueen agreed to withhold the exculpatory evidence provided by Peter Austin and instead manufacture a false statement of Peter Austin for the purpose of creating the appearance that there was probable cause to charge Bianchi and Synek with conspiracy and official misconduct. Defendant Stilling did not prepare a report of the Peter Austin interview.
70. Defendants Stilling and McQueen fabricated a false statement that Peter Austin informed them 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.
71. After a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery, there likely will be evidentiary support that Defendant Tonigan relied upon what he was told regarding Peter Austin’s statement in making the decision to present a superceding indictment to the special grand jury, alleging that Bianchi and Synek engaged in official misconduct and conspiracy to commit official misconduct by committing the underlying offense of “theft of labor, services, or use of property.”
72. Tonigan was either told an accurate description of Peter Austin’s statement, in which case Defendant Tonigan participated in the agreement to fabricate the false statement and withhold exculpatory evidence, or Defendant Tonigan was told the fabricated version of Peter Austin’s statement and unknowingly relied upon manufactured evidence in deciding to charge Bianchi and Synek.
73. On October 22, 2010, Defendant McQueen knowingly presented the perjured testimony of Defendant Richard Stilling to the special grand jury. Defendant Stilling falsely testified that Peter Austin 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.
74. 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 Defendant McQueen, knew the manual expressly gave Bianchi such authority. This perjured testimony was presented to the special grand jury for the purpose of securing a corrupt indictment charging that Bianchi committed the crime of theft of County property.
75. 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.
76. 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). 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
77. 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.
78. In furtherance of their conspiracy to prosecute and convict Bianchi and Synek for
crimes they did not commit, Defendants Quest investigators deliberately withheld exculpatory
evidence, including notes and witness statements, during the prosecutions of Bianchi and Synek.
79. 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.
- 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 Quest Investigators, McQueen, and/or Tonigan forced Bianchi and Synek to remain under indictment for more than six months.
81. 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.
82. 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.
Tomorrow: “The Conspiracy to Force Bianchi From Office Continues.”