Parents accused of AJ Freund's murder appear in court for separate civil case
Andrew Freund and a sobbing JoAnn Cunningham stood side by side before a McHenry County judge Thursday, but the appearance had nothing to do with first-degree murder and other criminal charges against them in the April death of their 5-year-old son, AJ.
They were in civil court as defendants in a foreclosure case involving the family house at 94 Dole Ave., in Crystal Lake. It has been vacant since April 24, when the couple was arrested and AJ's body was recovered from a makeshift grave near Woodstock.
Thursday's proceeding was a continuation of a case that began in July 2018. Real estate investor William Progar, who acquired the underlying note and mortgage from Home Sites LLC on May 20, says the outstanding debt as of July 30 is nearly $107,536, including penalties and interest, which is accruing at $13.55 per day.
Progar is seeking a judgment allowing the foreclosure to proceed. When he acquired the mortgage, a loan was due for a March 1, 2018, payment, according to court records.
Crystal Lake attorney Jonathan B. Kaman, representing Progar, on Thursday urged Associate Judge Suzanne C. Mangiamele to act on the request. While Mangiamele agreed it was time to move along, she continued the matter until Aug. 20 to allow Cunningham -- who had been represented in the matter by Freund, an attorney by profession -- time to find another lawyer to represent her in the case.
Also pending is a July 10 lawsuit filed by the city of Crystal Lake to have the house demolished. During an inspection May 24, the city found 41 violations and/or dangerous and unsafe conditions. Freund and Cunningham were notified in jail of the findings June 24.
According to that suit, which is separate from the foreclosure, the property is "beyond reasonable repair."
"The highest and best use of the property is demolition, not repair," the suit contends.
Crystal Lake also wants Freund and Cunningham each to be fined $500 per day from June 24 through the time a judgment is made. The next court date for the suit is Oct. 9.
Freund and Cunningham have appeared separately or had others between them in previous court dates, but they were side by side Thursday -- and wearing orange jail suits with a chain running between their cuffed hands and feet.
Freund withdrew as Cunningham's attorney in the foreclosure case July 11. At the time, she was given 21 days to retain new counsel, according to court records.
"She's been well aware this was pending," Kaman contended. Mangiamele gave Cunningham seven days and granted her five phone calls to legal aid or private attorneys to find new representation. But it came with a caution.
"I'm not going to prolong this," Mangiamele said.
Freund also was given seven days to respond to the newly filed affidavit of "amounts due and owing." He spoke to a requirement to file documents electronically.
"Being incarcerated, I don't know how that would work," Freund said. Mangiamele waived that requirement.
Once a judgment of foreclosure is entered, borrowers by law have three months to repay the lender before the property can proceed to a foreclosure sale, Kaman said after the proceeding.
He said mortgage acquisitions, such as Progar's, were common in the real estate industry but he didn't know his client's plans for the property.
Progar is one of about a dozen defendants in the Crystal Lake suit but how the city's action would affect a foreclosure judgment is unclear.
Freund, 60, and Cunningham, 36, remain in custody at the McHenry County jail on $5 million bail. Their next court dates are Aug. 28 and 29 respectively.