A Lake County judicial candidate has been placed on unpaid leave from her job as a supervisor with the Lake County state's attorney's office amid allegations she stole campaign signs from a Republican group opposing her, officials said Thursday.
Patricia Fix, a Democrat and the state's attorney's felony trial division chief, said she will "vigorously" defend herself against what she called "baseless allegations."
"I look forward to this being resolved once all the facts come to light," Fix said. "I await the results of any investigating agency and will cooperate with law enforcement. Unfortunately ... this may not occur until after the election."
She was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, said Jeff Pavletic, chief deputy of the criminal division of the Lake County state's attorney's office.
Pavletic said the Lake County sheriff's office received a tip Tuesday that Fix was "involved in removing campaign signs in Warren Township."
He added "based on the information we have received about the incident so far, the state's attorney's office has no choice but to place (Fix) on unpaid administrative leave effective (Thursday.)"
However, Fix said in a news release that the timing of the allegations is suspect, coming so close to the election.
She added that more than $1,000 of her signs have been stolen in the Gurnee area but never reported in the media. She said, and Gurnee police confirmed, that multiple police reports have been filed regarding theft of her campaign materials.
Fix is on the Nov. 6 ballot for circuit court judge in the second subcircuit for the 19th judicial circuit court. She is running against Republican Luis A. Berrones.
The signs that Fix is alleged to have removed were purchased by the Warren Township Republican Organization and state Fix was "not recommended" by the Lake County Bar Association to be a judge in Lake County.
The signs were on First Street near Grand Avenue, authorities said.
Organization Chairman Mike Amrozowicz said in a statement he saw and took pictures of the stolen signs in Fix's vehicle while it was parked outside the Lake County courthouse in Waukegan Tuesday.
"Integrity is part of the job description for a judge," Amrozowicz said.
Amrozowicz admitted filing a police report with the Lake County sheriff's office and other police departments.
Fix said this is politics as usual this close to an election.
"Imagine my surprise to hear about these allegations for the first time in a newspaper article, quoting Amrozowicz, who is actively supporting my opponent," she said.
On her candidate website, Fix is listed as a founding member of the first Domestic Violence Courtroom in Lake County, a supervisor in the domestic violence unit of the state's attorney's office and a member of the Lake County Domestic Violence Council.
Most recently, she has worked as lead prosecutor in the high-profile murder case of Daniel Baker, 24, of Deerfield.
Baker is charged with killing 50-year-old Marina Aksman of Vernon Hills, the mother of Baker's former girlfriend in 2010. Prosecutors say Baker killed Aksman because she tried to end the relationship he was having with her daughter.
Assistant State's Attorney Ari Fisz, chief of felony review and co-counsel in the Baker case, is expected to finish the trial while Fix is on leave.
The trial is currently on a weeklong break while Baker's defense attorney, Ed Genson of Chicago, decides whether to put Baker on the stand.