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updated: 7/4/2012 11:06 AM

Bianchi conspiracy suit ruling expected in August

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    Bill Zars | Staff Photographer McHenry County Sta

 
 

A federal judge could rule in August on a motion to dismiss a conspiracy and malicious prosecution lawsuit filed by McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi against two special prosecutors and a forensic computer firm, attorneys said.

Bianchi, a Crystal Lake Republican, was acquitted twice of misconduct charges last year and later sued special prosecutors Henry Tonigan and Thomas McQueen and a computer forensic firm alleging conspiracy, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, unreasonable search and seizure and violation of due process.

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Tonigan, McQueen and Quest Consultants have filed motions to be dismissed from the lawsuit, arguing that Bianchi's claims are "barred by absolute immunity, qualified immunity, and/or Illinois State statutory and common law immunity and privilege," according to court records.

In recent court filings, Bianchi's attorney argues that Tonigan, McQueen and Quest manufactured evidence. Court documents argue that McQueen and a Quest investigator ignored statements by County Administrator Peter Austin that the state's attorney had discretion to authorize county property for personal use.

"After the interview, (Investigator Richard) Stilling and McQueen agreed to withhold the exculpatory evidence and instead manufactured a false statement that Peter Austin indicated that only he had the power to authorize the use of county property for non-county business and he never gave any such permission to anyone in the SAO (State's Attorney's Office,)" Bianchi's lawyer Terry Elk argued in court records.

In September 2010, a special grand jury indicted Bianchi and his personal secretary, Joyce Synek, on charges they used county resources and personnel to further Bianchi's re-election campaign. A judge stopped the March 2011 trial halfway through citing a lack of evidence; Bianchi and Synek were acquitted on all charges.

Bianchi's motion also argues that Tonigan and McQueen were improperly appointed and exceeded the initial scope of the grand jury.

A ruling on whether the lawsuit should stand or be dismissed was scheduled for Tuesday, but the date was stricken and Judge Robert M. Dow Jr. will issue a ruling via mail, according to court records.

Ekl said he expects a ruling sometime in August.

Bianchi and two of his investigators, Ronald Salgado and Michael McCleary, also were charged with misconduct in February 2011.

Salgado and McCleary were removed from the case before a trial in August 2011 that again was stopped midway through because of lack of evidence against Bianchi. The allegations were that Bianchi used his position to lessen criminal penalties for distant relatives and had charges dismissed for those politically connected to him.

Synek, Salgado and McCleary also are plaintiffs in the conspiracy lawsuit, which seeks $15 million in damages.

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