McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi pleaded not guilty Friday to 21 counts of conspiracy and official misconduct related to charges that he tried to cover up evidence that he used county resources and personnel to further his political career.
Bianchi, 67, was indicted last month, along with his executive secretary Joyce Synek. Synek, 62, also pleaded not guilty Friday to five counts of perjury and obstructing justice. Both were released on a $100,000 recognizance bond. The judge did not place conditions on either party.
Winnebago County Judge Joseph McGraw, who was assigned to the case last month, set a trial date of March 21. But defense attorney Terry Ekl said he plans to ask the judge to dismiss the case at the next court date scheduled for Dec 3. Ekl requested the release of petitions and orders related to the special prosecutors' authority to investigate Bianchi and Synek.
"They have exceeded the scope of their lawful authority," Ekl said. "There will be a motion to dismiss."
The defense says the special prosecutors were retained to investigate claims brought forward by Bianchi's former secretary, Amy Dalby, who said she was required to do political work while on the clock in the state's attorney's office.
Ekl said the indictment, however, does not include any allegations related to Dalby.
"They were given a specific set of facts; investigate Dalby's accusations," Ekl said. "This goes beyond the scope of the order."
Ekl also filed a motion Friday asking the special prosecutors, Henry Tonigan and Thomas McQueen, to provide evidence to support 18 of the 26 counts.
At Friday's arraignment hearing, Bianchi was granted permission to travel outside the state to visit his children and grandchildren.
If found guilty, Bianchi faces up to five years in prison.