Ex-Lake County coroner Rudd freed from jail after posting bail
Attorneys for embattled former Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd did not outright proclaim politics is to blame for his client's being charged with perjury.
But defense attorney Jed Stone said in a brief news conference outside the Lake County jail minutes after Rudd was released on bail Thursday that he is having trouble understanding the motivation for the charges.
"I think it's interesting that a candidate who withdrew from a primary almost a year ago got indicted yesterday (Wednesday)," Stone said. "I don't understand it. I can't think of a single other election case where a candidate who withdrew got indicted."
Rudd was charged with five felony counts of perjury by a Lake County grand jury Wednesday on claims he was not truthful on nomination petitions he filed to run for election.
Rudd did not speak with the media after posting the required $15,000 to be released.
Because he posted the bail, he was not required to appear in bond court, authorities said. Rudd is due to appear in front of Judge Daniel Shanes on Feb. 24, Stone said.
Authorities say Rudd was charged because he lied on nominating petitions when seeking re-election in 2016.
According to the indictment obtained Thursday by the Daily Herald, Rudd knowingly made a false statement on his re-election petition sheets by signing five different sheets and having them notarized, claiming the signatures on each sheet were signed in his presence and each was genuine.
The nomination sheets were filed Nov. 21, 2015, when Rudd was seeking re-election to the Democratic nomination to the office of Lake County coroner, the court documents read.
Lake County Undersheriff Ray Rose said in a news conference Wednesday evening that "15 to 20 signatures" on the five nomination petition sheets in question were proven to be false. In addition, he said at least one signature on the petitions was from a person who had been "dead for over 10 years."
A judge approved a $150,000 arrest warrant for Rudd, 70, of Lake Forest after a grand jury handed up the felony indictments Wednesday morning.
The one-year investigation into the signatures on the petitions was conducted by Lake County sheriff's detectives and the Office of Professional Standards. The Illinois appellate prosecutor's office is handling the prosecution because of a potential conflict of interest with the Lake County state's attorney's office.
Rudd initially filed in November 2015 to run as a Democrat in the March 2016 primary. He dropped out of the race and withdrew his nominating papers after they were challenged. He said at the time he would not have enough signatures to remain on the ballot should the objections be upheld.
In June, Rudd filed similar petitions to run as an independent in the November general election. However, Democratic candidate Michael P. Donnenwirth and Waukegan resident Keith E. Turner filed objections to those petitions, claiming Rudd could not run as an independent in the same election cycle in which he filed as a Democrat.
The three-member electoral board upheld the objections in July, as did an appellate court in October. Rudd ran as a write-in candidate but fell far short in the November general election. Republican Howard Cooper won the position.