Prosecutors seek do-over in ex-Aurora coach's verdict

Posted2/9/2010 12:01 AM
  • Michael P. Cardamone

    Michael P. Cardamone

Five years ago, a DuPage County jury, in a split verdict, found an Aurora gymnastics coach guilty of inappropriately touching seven of the 14 girls who accused him of abuse.

But two years ago, as Michael Cardamone served a 20-year prison term, a state appellate court overturned his conviction after justices found the jury was allowed to hear too much testimony of uncharged allegations. A new trial was ordered.

On Monday, the long legal saga took another twist as prosecutors sought a legal do-over, while evoking the infamous double jeopardy case of Chicago Outfit Enforcer Harry Aleman.

Prosecutors asked DuPage Circuit Judge Blanche Hill Fawell to either vacate the jury's not guilty verdicts or declare a mistrial because, they claim, Cardamone conspired with his mother, wife and an employee to doctor gym work schedules and provide untruthful testimony during the 2005 trial.

Prosecutors cited certain case law, including Aleman's case, that supports double jeopardy exceptions. Aleman was convicted at retrial of a 1972 Chicago Teamsters union steward's murder after it was learned his attorney bribed a Cook County judge who had acquitted him originally. Though the two cases are dissimilar, prosecutors argue, Cardamone also manipulated the outcome of his trial.

"(Cardamone) employed fraud and collusion to obtain the findings of not guilty," the prosecution motion states. "There is no doubt that these frauds were perpetrated with the knowledge and approval of the defendant, who testified consistently with the false alibi-type evidence and forged documents."

Cardamone, 33, who wears an electronic monitoring device, has been free on a $550,000 bond since shortly after his initial conviction was overturned in March 2008. He is awaiting a new trial.

He is living with family in Oswego and is barred from having contact with his accusers, all of whom live in the Aurora and Naperville area. Cardamone has fought the allegations since his initial arrest in late 2002.

"(The) motion is in direct retaliation against me in my fight to prove my innocence," Cardamone said after court. "This case is an example of malicious prosecution. The appellate court overturned this case because I was not given a fair trial in DuPage County. (The prosecution) has done everything they can to defer and hinder me from proving the facts in this case, which do prove innocence."

The new controversy arose after his estranged wife, Elizabeth, against whom he filed for divorce, began cooperating with the prosecution and said she lied while testifying during the trial. She later recanted, but Cardamone's mother and a gym employee were charged with forgery based on statements Elizabeth Cardamone provided the prosecution with the hope they'd help her regain custody of the former couple's two sons.

Michael Cardamone is due back in court March 8. Judge Fawell is expected to rule on the prosecution motion after a hearing is held on the issue.END ATTRIBUTION