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updated: 7/18/2011 5:33 PM

Garling feels 'vindicated' after battery charge dropped in Island Lake case

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  • Rich Garling

    Rich Garling


A misdemeanor battery charge has been dropped against a former Island Lake trustee who was accused of hitting the wife of a political rival at village hall.

The charge against Rich Garling was dropped Friday after the victim arrived late for court, said Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Paul Bishop, the prosecutor in the case.

Prosecutors asked for a continuance, but Associate Judge George Strickland ordered the case dropped.

"They never had a case in the first place," Garling said Monday. "It was all based on lies."

Garling was arrested in February 2009. Then a trustee, he was accused of hitting resident Gina Meeks in the back after she called him stupid following an election board hearing at village hall.

During the hearing, Meeks' husband, David, was removed from the spring 2009 ballot based on a technical objection Garling had filed.

Garling was not running in the election.

Witnesses in the case included then-candidate Laurie Rabattini, who eventually was elected.

Gina Meeks couldn't be reached for comment Monday.

In a conversation with the Daily Herald, Garling admitted stopping to say "You're welcome" to Gina Meeks before leaving village hall after the hearing. He said he put up his hand but never touched her.

Garling -- whose political career included an unsuccessful bid for the state House in 2008 -- later moved out of town and resigned from the village board. He now lives in Grayslake.

Garling said he feels "vindicated" now that the charges have been dropped.

The case is the latest unsuccessful prosecution of an Island Lake elected official by the Lake County state's attorney's office.

In May, ex-Mayor Charles Amrich was found not guilty of official misconduct. He had been accused of deliberately engaging in a financial conflict of interest by allowing village-owned vehicles to be repaired at a service station he owned.

Last year, criminal charges were dropped against ex-mayor Thomas Hyde -- Amrich's successor -- in connection with a ghost-payrolling investigation. His wife, village employee Sharon Hyde, remains charged in the matter.

In 2009, Thomas Hyde was found not guilty of forgery and official misconduct in an unrelated matter.