Judge says Aurora officials' emails not relevant in case against alderwoman
Attorneys for an Aurora alderwoman accused of shoplifting from Meijer say they suspect city officials were behind the decision to upgrade the original misdemeanor charges to a felony to try to force her from office.
But they may never know, because DuPage Judge Daniel Guerin on Monday quashed three subpoenas filed by Lynne Johnson's attorney, Brittany Pedersen, seeking copies of all communications between any Aurora employees, including Mayor Tom Weisner and City Attorney Alayne Weingartz, and Aurora police regarding the 10th Ward alderwoman's case.
Guerin said the emails could be relevant in a civil case if Johnson felt she was improperly removed from office, but not in her criminal trial.
"Your request is overbroad," Guerin told Pedersen. "It seems to be a fishing expedition to see if something can be developed."
Johnson, 51, of the 400 block of Plaza Place, originally was charged with misdemeanor retail theft after, authorities say, a plainclothes employee on Jan. 31 saw her take $55.21 worth of markers, pencils, party favors and ibuprofen.
On Feb. 19, DuPage State's Attorney Robert Berlin's office upgraded the charges to felony burglary, saying Johnson entered the store with the intent to steal.
An employee at the Meijer on the 800 block of North Route 59 told police Johnson put the items in her purse before she paid for other goods. The employee confronted her outside the store and escorted her to the asset protection office without incident, authorities said.
Something occurred somewhere to cause Aurora's felony investigations unit to be reassigned to this case," Pedersen said during Monday's hearing.
Pedersen said she wants to see what, if any, communication between city hall and the police department led to reopening the investigation on Feb. 12 and ultimately seeking upgraded charges.
"We know, during that time, there were two committee of the whole meetings where (aldermen) discussed how (Johnson) could be fired from her position," Pedersen said. "And on Feb. 17 we know there was a letter from corporate counsel Alayne Weingartz to the city council saying unless (Johnson) was convicted of a felony, she could not be removed from office."
Assistant State's Attorney Megan McGuire also called Pedersen's subpoenas a "fishing expedition."
"It's not relevant," McGuire said. "The state enhances cases all of the time after reviewing the defendant's background."
Johnson received supervision in August 2013 after pleading guilty to retail theft at the same Meijer. She also pleaded guilty to retail theft charges in 2003 in Bolingbrook and 2010 in Willowbrook.
She is next due in court at 9 a.m. Sept. 26. The first-term alderwoman's term expires in 2017.