Perjury charges stand against former Lake County coroner

  • Thomas Rudd

    Thomas Rudd

 
 
Updated 5/16/2017 4:54 PM

Dr. Thomas Rudd got "his hand caught in the cookie jar," a Lake County prosecutor said Tuesday before a judge denied the controversial former coroner's motion to dismiss perjury charges against him.

Rudd, who is accused of making false statements on nominating petitions filed as part of his unsuccessful 2016 re-election bid, now is scheduled to go to trial July 10, Lake County Judge Victoria Rossetti ruled.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I'm disappointed we didn't prevail today," Rudd attorney Jed Stone said after the decision. "I'm convinced there are triable issues here."

Rudd did not comment.

The 70-year-old Lake Forest resident could face two to five years in prison if found guilty on any of the five felony perjury charges brought against him earlier this year. Probation also would be possible. Rudd is free after posting 10 percent of his $150,000 bail in February.

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. He used the cookie jar reference in court, saying Rudd tried to sneak false nomination petitions through and got caught.

The perjury charges allege Rudd knowingly made false statements about the validity of his nominating petitions in December 2015. The nomination sheets were filed with the Lake County Clerk's Office, and Rudd said under oath the signatures were genuine and signed in his presence.

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However, 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 and lost in the November general election to Republican Howard Cooper.

Stone argued in court that the charges are "political payback" for controversial statements Rudd 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 killed himself 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. 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.

Rudd is scheduled to return to court June 27.

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