Judge: 2 Bianchi prosecutors must stay
The second misconduct case against McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi will proceed with the same two special prosecutors initially appointed to the case, a judge ruled Friday.
Special Prosecutors Henry Tonigan and Thomas McQueen both petitioned Winnebago County Judge Joseph McGraw to removed them from the case for various reasons.
Tonigan renewed his April request to be removed, saying his elderly father's health had gotten worse. McQueen wanted off the case because he believes a possible lawsuit by Bianchi could interfere with his judgment as a prosecutor.
McGraw rejected both motions and reaffirmed an Aug. 1 bench trial in Woodstock, said Bianchi's defense attorney, Terry Ekl.
"They're the ones who indicted the case. They're the ones who have to dismiss it or take it to trial," Ekl said.
Bianchi is accused of lessening penalties and dismissing cases for relatives and political supporters.
In March, Judge McGraw halted a trial for insufficient evidence and issued a not-guilty verdict for Bianchi and his secretary Joyce Synek, who were accused of using county resources to further his re-election campaign.
Earlier this week, McGraw dismissed a misconduct charge against Michael McCleary, an investigator in Bianchi's office. McCleary was charged with using a county vehicle for personal reasons, but it was a violation of county policy, not state law. His attorney also said McCleary was exempt from the county policy.
In early June, charges against Ron Salgado, Bianchi's chief investigator, also were dropped when McGraw ruled that Salgado could not have denied a defendant equal protection under the law because Salgado is not an attorney.
Phone messages left at the offices of Tonigan and McQueen were not immediately returned.
If convicted this time, Bianchi faces up to five years in prison, but probation also is an option.