Former Lake County coroner asks court to dismiss perjury charges
Attorneys for former Lake County Coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd are asking a judge to dismiss perjury charges alleging he made false statements on nominating petitions filed as part of a failed re-election bid last year.
Rudd lawyer Jed Stone wrote in court filings Tuesday that the 70-year-old former coroner cannot be prosecuted for perjury because he withdrew his name from the Democratic primary in December 2015 after admitting he wasn't present when his nomination petitions were signed.
"I'm anxious to hear the state's response," Stone said after court Tuesday. "I believe it was ill conceived to bring charges in this case ... The charges should be dismissed."
The Lake Forest resident was indicted in February on five counts of perjury. He faces up to 2 to 5 years in prison if found guilty, though probation also would be possible. His trial remains tentatively set for July 10.
Rudd, who is free after posting 10 percent of his $150,000 bail in February, declined to comment Tuesday.
Illinois appellate court prosecutor Brian Towne is handling the case because of a potential conflict of interest with the Lake County state's attorney's office. Towne said he "anxiously" is looking forward to being heard by Lake County Judge Victoria Rossetti on the issue.
The dismissal hearing is set for May 16.
Stone previously said the charges are "political payback" against Rudd for controversial statements he made while serving as coroner from 2012 to 2016.
Rudd made headlines, and angered many in the law enforcement community, when he questioned whether Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz was murdered in the line of duty in 2015. Police later said Gliniewicz took his own life to cover up his theft from a youth program.
He also publicly questioned the murder conviction of Melissa Calusinski in the 2009 death of a 16-month-old boy at a Lincolnshire day care center. As coroner, Rudd changed the boy's official cause of death from homicide to undetermined, and was critical of autopsy results that linked Calusinski to the boy's death.
The perjury indictment alleges Rudd knowingly made false statements about the validity of his nominating petitions by signing and having notarized five sheets of signatures for his re-election campaign. The nomination sheets were filed with the Lake County Clerk Nov. 21, 2015, and Rudd said under oath the signatures were genuine and signed in his presence.
Authorities say 15 to 20 signatures on the petitions turned out to be false, and at least one sheet contained the signature of a person who had been dead for more than a decade.
Rudd initially filed to run as a Democrat in the March 2016 primary, but withdrew his nominating papers after they were challenged. At the time, Rudd said he would not have enough signatures to remain on the ballot should the objections be upheld.
He later ran as a write-in candidate but lost in the November general election to Republican Howard Cooper.