Bianchi supporters fire back to stop 'witch hunt'
Supporters of McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi, who was exonerated last month of charges he used his county office to further his re-election campaign, fired back Thursday, seeking to unseal a court file that started the investigation and asking to remove two special prosecutors assigned to the case.
Terry Ekl, who is Bianchi's defense attorney, filed court papers on behalf of six McHenry County residents and Bianchi supporters who watched some or all of Bianchi's trial, which ended abruptly after the judge ruled the prosecutors had insufficient evidence and without the defense calling a single witness.
Ekl said the motion will ask Judge Gordon Graham to unseal a 2009 court file that resulted in the appointment of Henry Tonigan and Thomas McQueen as special prosecutors for the case.
Ekl also wants the pair's appointment terminated, saying "they demonstrated a lack of competence" during the trial and have grossly overbilled the county.
"They didn't even understand that they had to disclose oral statements made by the defendant in discovery," Ekl said.
Reached by phone, Tonigan declined to comment on Ekl's latest move.
"I'm not going to respond to anything until I see what the motion is," he said.
Ekl hopes a prosecutor from another county or the Attorney General's Office will review the second indictment lodged against Bianchi in February, which accuses him of misconduct, alleging he cut deals to aid relatives and campaign donors to lessen sentences or drop charges altogether.
"I've been doing this for 37 years and I can tell you that the second indictment is weaker than the first," Ekl said.
So far, the county has paid $312,259.62 for the prosecution, Adam Lehmann, assistant to the McHenry County Administrator, has said. Tonigan also has billed the county for $90,783 through last November, but that has not been paid yet, Lehmann said.
The county board is under court order to pay the bills, but some members have said they want to review them line by line before signing off on them.
Bianchi's supporters in the lawsuit are: Robert Borchert, John and Ria Reckamp and Mary Alger, all of Crystal Lake, along with Anthony Scimeca, who lives near Wonder Lake, and Thomas Crane of Woodstock.
"My personal belief is it was a witch hunt right from the start," said Borchert, a retired FBI agent.
Added Scimeca: "I too felt it was a fishing expedition."
Bianchi is not a party on the motion, but he fully supports the move, Ekl said.
"Lou knows what we're doing," Ekl said. "He's as concerned as everybody else with the county getting ripped off. Everybody should be."
Both sides are due in court on April 15.