Libertyville District 128 employee seeks plea deal in perjury case

  • Denise Zwit

    Denise Zwit

 
 
Updated 11/1/2017 1:38 PM

A Libertyville-Vernon Hills High School district secretary charged with perjury stemming from April's school board election is seeking a plea deal with Lake County prosecutors, her defense lawyer said Wednesday.

Attorney Brian Smith said he is preparing to present prosecutors with a mitigation package for Denise Zwit, 65, who serves as assistant to Superintendent Prentiss Lea at Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A mitigation package typically is used to provide background about a defendant in hopes of obtaining a plea deal or lighter sentence.

Smith said he has not received an plea offer on the case, but believes the mitigation package could help open those doors.

"If we can get the right offer, there's a chance we can get this resolved before trial," Smith said.

Zwit and District 128 school board member Ellen Mauer, 52, have pleaded not guilty to perjury charges alleging they falsified nominating petitions before the spring 2017 election.

Mauer and Zwit were indicted in June on four and three counts of perjury, respectively. Each are free after posting 10 percent of their $25,000 bail.

The charges allege Mauer and Zwit signed legal documents falsely claiming they were present during the circulation of nominating petitions for the April 5 school board election. Each count is equal to the number of sheets where improper signatures were discovered, authorities say. Mauer had four erroneous sheets, while Zwit turned in three, according to prosecutors.

Zwit and Mauer, who also serves as principal at Spaulding School in Gurnee, face a maximum of five years in prison if found guilty. Probation also would be possible.

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Mauer won her fourth term on the school board in April, receiving the most votes of the five candidates. She has continued to serve since being indicted.

Zwit circulated petitions on behalf of school board President Patrick Groody, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Zwit is due back in court Dec. 14. Her trial is set for Feb. 13. Mauer is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 9 for a case management conference ahead of a Dec. 4 trial date.

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