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updated: 4/15/2011 5:22 PM

Judge keeps Bianchi billing status quo

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A judge this week declined to adjust downward a $90,000 bill submitted by special prosecutors in the misconduct case against McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi.

Meanwhile, an April 28 hearing has been set for Judge Gordon Graham to decide whether Special Prosecutors Henry Tonigan and Thomas McQueen should be dismissed from the case because of incompetence and gross overbilling and to unseal a court file that launched the entire investigation.

"We should be permitted to intervene. The public has a right to see that file," said Terry Ekl, an attorney on the case who also serves as Bianchi's defense attorney.

The March trial of Bianchi and his personal secretary, Joyce Synek, ended with them being declared not guilty on a combined 26 felony counts of misconduct and conspiracy to county resources to further his re-election campaign without their defense team even presenting a single witness.

But Bianchi faces three more misconduct charges of cutting deals to lessen or throw out criminal penalties against his distant relatives and political donors.

He, along with two of his investigators, are due in court on those charges on April 29 and a trial is scheduled for June 27.

In the hearing this week, Judge Gordon Graham shot down a request to have Tonigan and McQueen's hourly rate of $250 each adjusted downward to a prorated portion of the state's attorney's annual salary of $166,000.

That would come to about $91.50 an hour, said Charles Colburn of the Illinois Appellate Prosecutors Office, who is representing the county.

"This is going to be our position for all future bills that an apportionment should be made," Colburn said Friday. "We did not waive the right to challenge previous bills."

Colburn said the bills were challenged now because the file recently was unsealed.

So far, the county been ordered to pay $312,259.62 for prosecution, said Peter Austin, county administrator.

This number includes the $90,783.34 that was disputed in court this week.

McHenry County Board Chairman Ken Koehler said he was "extremely disappointed" by Graham's decision and the county board next Tuesday will meet behind closed doors to discuss their next move.

"This thing stinks to high heaven," he said. "I think we've got some pretty strong grounds to stand on. We're going to take it as far we can."