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posted: 3/31/2010 12:01 AM

Kane Co. coroner probe going to grand jury

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  • Kane County Coroner Chuck West

      Kane County Coroner Chuck West

 
 

A grand jury is scheduled to convene next month regarding an ongoing investigation into Kane County Coroner Chuck West's office, authorities confirmed Tuesday.

Special Prosecutor Charles Colburn said he intends to appear before the jury on April 16, with testimony continuing through at least April 27.

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Since last fall, Colburn has been investigating allegations that two deputy coroners took a television from a dead man's home in 2007 after no next of kin could be found.

On Tuesday, West referred questions to defense attorney Gary Johnson, who declined to comment other than to say he was unaware of the grand jury proceedings.

Earlier this month, West said in an interview that he had allowed two of his employees to store the television at their home until a relative of the deceased, Preston Pomykal, 64, of Carpentersville, would turn up. The coroner said his office has little storage space, and he never intended for anyone to keep the television.

"It wasn't hidden," he said. "It wasn't stolen."

West said it's not uncommon for his office to take possession of items found in the course of death investigations if they help locate a next of kin or, if necessary, recoup cremation costs.

Colburn, who has been brought in to investigate the case to avoid a potential conflict of interest with the state's attorney, declined to comment on the investigation Tuesday beyond saying it was "ongoing."

He has previously said the conduct in question "doesn't appear to be widespread."

West, a former paramedic and Republican, was first elected coroner in 2000. He has said he believes the investigation into his office is politically motivated, and he does not intend to resign.

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