Ex-Lake County coroner's defense wants special prosecutor dismissed
The defense for former Lake County Coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd filed court documents Wednesday asking a judge to throw out the perjury charges against him, or at least dismiss the special prosecutor leading the case.
According to the motion, special prosecutor Brian Towne is the target of a pending criminal investigation in downstate LaSalle County. Rudd has the right to be "charged and prosecuted by an independent prosecutor unfettered by his own misconduct and clear of any cloud or taint of ethics violations," the court document reads.
Towne is being investigated as part of a probe into the finances of a drug-enforcement unit he created while serving as LaSalle County state's attorney from 2006 to 2016, according to the LaSalle News-Tribune.
Towne could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday. He was appointed to Rudd's case because of a potential conflict of interest with the Lake County state's attorney's office.
The request to remove Towne was made at the same time Rudd's defense asked a judge to throw out the case altogether, labeling it a political game of "gotcha."
"The prosecution of Dr. Rudd is improvident and ill-conceived," defense attorney Jed Stone said Wednesday. "It should be dismissed."
Rudd, 70, of Lake Forest, faces five counts of perjury alleging he made false statements on nominating petitions filed as part of his unsuccessful 2016 re-election bid. He would face a maximum sentence of two to five years in prison if convicted, though probation also is possible.
Authorities say Rudd falsely stated under oath that he was present when people signed his petitions. Prosecutors allege 15 to 20 signatures on the petitions turned out to be false, and one name was that of a person who has been dead for more than a decade.
Stone previously argued the charges are "political payback" for controversial statements Rudd made while serving as coroner from 2012 to 2016.
Rudd upset 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 embezzlement 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, who is free on $150,000 bail, is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 31.