Former coroner's perjury trial delayed until next year

  • Thomas Rudd

    Thomas Rudd

 
 
Updated 10/17/2017 7:21 PM

The perjury trial of former Lake County Coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd has been delayed until January, following the indictment of its first special prosecutor and health-related issues of his replacement.

Lake County Judge Victoria Rossetti agreed Tuesday to postpone Rudd's trial of until Jan. 16 at the request of Appellate Court prosecutor Charles Zalar. He wrote in court documents that he is suffering from a medical condition and requires time to catch up on the case.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Zalar, who did not appear in court Tuesday, took over the case after former prosecutor Brian Towne, 49, was charged with 13 counts of official misconduct and four counts of misapplication of funds stemming from his tenure as a state's attorney in downstate LaSalle County.

The charges allege Towne used more than $27,000 in public funds for a personal vehicle, home Wi-Fi and a training conference in Las Vegas while serving as La Salle County state's attorney, according to the LaSalle News Tribune.

All 90 of the cases Towne had been working on for the Illinois Appellate Court prosecutor's office -- including Rudd's -- were reassigned.

Rudd attorney Jed Stone did not object to the delay Tuesday.

Rudd, 70, of Lake Forest, faces five counts of perjury alleging he made false statements on nominating petitions filed prior to his unsuccessful 2016 re-election bid.

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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 voters signed his nominating petitions. Prosecutors allege 15 to 20 signatures on the petitions turned out to be false, and one signature is from a person who had been dead for more than a decade.

The appellate court prosecutor's office was appointed to avoid possible conflict of interest with the Lake County state's attorney's office, officials said.

Stone has long said the charges are "political payback" for controversial statements Rudd made while serving as coroner from 2012 to 2016.

Rudd remains free on $150,000 bail and is due back in court Dec. 11.

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