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posted: 2/11/2010 12:01 AM

Prosecutors change latest Cardamone strategy

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  • Michael P. Cardamone

      Michael P. Cardamone

 
 

Days after evoking the infamous double jeopardy saga of a Chicago hit man to help prove their case, prosecutors seeking Michael Cardamone's conviction abandoned the novel - and somewhat creative - legal theory.

The motion asked a DuPage County judge to either declare a mistrial or vacate a jury's 2005 "not guilty" verdicts for seven gymnasts who accused the former Aurora coach of inappropriately touching them during stretching exercises.

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Jurors in their split verdict convicted Cardamone of similar allegations involving seven other students. He received a 20-year prison term, but a state appeals court overturned his conviction in 2008 citing trial errors.

In the Feb. 1 pretrial motion, prosecutors sought the legal do-over after accusing Cardamone of conspiring with his mother, wife and an employee of his family's gym to doctor his work schedule and lie at trial to bolster his defense.

Prosecutors cited certain case law, including Chicago Outfit enforcer Harry Aleman's case, that lift double jeopardy protection when the defendant so manipulates evidence that an acquittal is the only possible outcome. Aleman was convicted at retrial of a 1972 Chicago Teamsters union steward's murder after it was learned his attorney bribed a Cook County judge who had acquitted him.

After reviewing his assistants' motion, DuPage State's Attorney Joe Birkett said he instructed them to drop the legal argument, which he said is "interesting" but would likely fail since the jury did convict Cardamone on some of the criminal charges.

Still, Birkett said they will vigorously pursue other legal avenues to introduce allegations that Cardamone committed fraud on the court through actions the prosecutor said are akin to an admission of guilt.

Cardamone, 33, who is free on a $550,000 bond, maintains his innocence.

"It puts me through more financial burden because I have to respond to and fight these frivolous allegations," Cardamone said.

The new controversy arose after his estranged wife, Elizabeth, against whom he filed for divorce, began cooperating with the prosecution and said she lied while testifying. She later recanted, but Cardamone's mother and a gym employee were charged with forgery based on statements Elizabeth Cardamone said she provided the prosecution with the hope they'd help her regain custody of the former couple's two sons.

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