Bianchi vows to fight on after $15 million federal lawsuit dismissed
A judge has dismissed a $15 million federal lawsuit that McHenry County State's Attorney Lou Bianchi filed against a special prosecutor who twice indicted him on misconduct charges.
Bianchi, a Crystal Lake Republican, was acquitted twice in 2011, and his attorney said Thursday he will appeal the decision, as well as file a malicious prosecution lawsuit against Thomas McQueen and others in state court.
"We're still looking for justice and we're going to keep going forward until we get it," Bianchi said. "It was an out-and-out abuse of the system."
Special prosecutors McQueen and Henry Tonigan investigated claims in 2010 that Bianchi was having his staff work on his re-election campaign while on county time.
Bianchi and his secretary, Joyce Synek, were indicted in September 2010 on a host of misconduct charges; Bianchi and two of his investigators were later charged with misconduct.
Bianchi and Synek were found not guilty in a March 2011 trial that ended without the defense having to call a single witness after Winnebago County Judge Joseph McGraw ruled there was insufficient evidence in the case.
The same judge also found Bianchi not guilty -- again due to insufficient evidence -- in a second trial in August 2011 on allegations that Bianchi improperly used his position to lessen penalties for relatives or to reduce charges against those politically connected to him.
Bianchi filed a federal lawsuit in January 2012, seeking damages from McQueen, Tonigan and Quest Consultants, a computer forensic firm, alleging conspiracy, malicious prosecution, unreasonable search and seizure and violation of due process.
Synek and two of Bianchi's investigators, who were indicted but removed as defendants in the second criminal case, also sought damages.
Federal Judge Dow Robert M. Dow dismissed the lawsuit in late February.
Before that, Tonigan ended up settling the federal lawsuit against him, an unusual move because prosecutors are covered by blanket immunity for their actions. The $157,000 that Tonigan paid in the settlement was used to help pay for legal bills racked up in Bianchi's two prosecutions.
McQueen's defense attorney, Matt Henderson, said neither he nor his client would comment.
"This isn't over," said Terry Ekl, Bianchi's attorney. "I'm going to continue to pursue this vigorously up until the very end. Even if we lost in the court of appeals, we've still got a valid malicious prosecution case that we're going to take to trial."