District 128 school board member pleads not guilty to perjury charges

Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 school board member Ellen Mauer pleaded not guilty Wednesday to four counts of perjury alleging she falsified nominating petitions to run for re-election this year.

Mauer, 52, and her attorney Brian Smith declined to comment when leaving the courtroom moments after she entered the not guilty plea in front of Judge Victoria Rossetti.

Mauer, who also serves as principal at Spaulding School in Gurnee, faces up to seven years in prison if found guilty of the felony charges at trial. Probation also would be possible, Rossetti said.

A trial date is tentatively set for Oct. 23. Mauer, who is free on $25,000 bond, is due back in court on Aug. 10 for a case management conference.

Also charged is Denise Zwit, 65, the assistant to District 128 Superintendent Prentiss Lea. She faces three counts of perjury under similar allegations. Zwit, who's also free on $25,000 bond, is due in court July 13 for arraignment.

The charges allege Mauer and Zwit signed legal documents falsely claiming they were present during the circulation of nominating petitions for the April 5 school board election. Each count is equal to the number of sheets where improper signatures were discovered, authorities said. Mauer had four erroneous sheets, while Zwit turned in three, according to authorities.

Mauer won her fourth term in April, receiving the most votes of the five candidates, and has continued to serve since being indicted last month.

District officials and board President Patrick Groody have declined to comment on the allegations, and no board members raised the issue when the panel met June 26.

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