Nygren special investigator decision nears
The saga over whether a special investigator is needed to look into claims that McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren used public funds and his office's logo in a re-election campaign is nearing an end.
Or, it could be just beginning, depending on how a judge rules.
McHenry County Judge Thomas Meyer will announce his decision on April 25, taking two more weeks to research the matter after a hearing Wednesday in Woodstock.
"I don't want to rush my reading," Meyer said.
Since early 2010, McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Zane Seipler has pushed for a special prosecutor to investigate his boss, arguing Nygren improperly used a seven-pointed star that was his office's logo on campaign literature.
McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi has removed himself from the matter, citing a conflict of interest.
On Wednesday, Seipler attorney Blake Horowitz called Bianchi to the witness stand to have him reiterate his office's position under oath -- and add weight to the argument that a special prosecutor is needed because no one else will investigate.
Bianchi said his office represents Nygren in several civil lawsuits and prosecutors regularly work with deputies on criminal cases.
Bianchi testified that he would not investigate claims made against Nygren regarding the campaign star or any other matter.
"Ethically, I can't represent the sheriff and indict him and prosecute him at the same time," Bianchi said. "I believe I'd be disbarred."
After the hearing, Horowitz said Bianchi's refusal to investigate Nygren results in a "free pass."
"It was firm and clear that if you're the sheriff, you get a free pass. You get to do whatever you want because the state's attorney is conflicted legally," Horowitz said. "The sheriff has taken advantage of that situation." Seipler unsuccessfully ran against Nygren in the spring 2010 primary for the Republican nomination for sheriff. Nygren fired Seipler in 2008 for improperly ticketing motorists, but an arbitrator and appellate court ruled the Seipler should have just been suspended for three days.
The Illinois Supreme Court refused to hear Nygren's appeal, so Seipler has returned to work at the department.