Charges against former Lake coroner Rudd upheld again
Former Lake County coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd will need to go to trial if he wants to shake perjury accusations, after a judge Thursday again refused to dismiss the charges against him.
Lake County Judge Victoria Rossetti affirmed an earlier ruling that upheld the five perjury charges against Rudd. She rejected defense arguments that the charges should be dropped because the former coroner withdrew his candidacy after submitting nominating petitions he's accused of falsifying.
She said Rudd signed legal documents and swore an oath that the petitions were valid when he turned them in to the Lake County Clerk's Office on Nov. 23, 2015, three weeks before he pulled out of the race.
Defense attorney Burt Odelson said after court that he "didn't agree" with Rossetti's decision, adding that it will have a "chilling effect on people" who intend to run for public office.
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 faces 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 is that of a person who had been dead for more than a decade.
Illinois Appellate Court prosecutor Brian Towne, who is prosecuting the case instead of the Lake County State's Attorney's Office to avoid any possible conflicts of interest, did not speak after Thursday's decision.
Defense attorney Jed Stone has said the charges are "political payback" for controversial statements Rudd made while serving as coroner from 2012 to 2016.
"While serving as coroner, Dr. Rudd challenged law enforcement and questioned the wisdom of certain prosecutions," Stone said. "Now, he's paying the price."
Rudd upset many in the law enforcement community when he publicly questioned whether Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz was murdered in the line of duty in 2015. Authorities later said Gliniewicz killed himself and made it appear as if he were murdered.
Rudd then cast doubt on the murder conviction of Melissa Calusinski in the 2009 death of a 16-month-old boy at a Lincolnshire day care center. While serving 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.
Also Thursday, Stone and Odelson withdrew a defense motion to dismiss Towne as prosecutor of the case. The motion claimed Towne was facing a possible criminal investigation in LaSalle County related to a drug-enforcement unit he created while serving as LaSalle County state's attorney from 2006 to 2016.
Rudd remains free on $150,000 bail. His trial is expected to begin Oct. 23, but both sides are due back in court on final pretrial motions Oct. 17.