Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez . | Al Podgorski~Sun-Times
Updated: January 17, 2013 6:30AM
Anita Alvarez’s efforts at damage control keep generating more damage than control.
I’m not talking about the Cook County state’s attorney’s recent appearance on “60 Minutes.” Or Alvarez’s subsequent public protest that producers selectively edited and willfully distorted her interview. That’s a matter between her and CBS.
And I’m not referring to what sometimes appears to be her office’s excessive zeal in prosecutions of would-be critics of the criminal justice system. Like Northwestern students probing wrongful prosecutions. Or citizen watchdogs who attempt to audio-record police or public officials.
What I am talking about is Alvarez’s amazing — not in a good way — interview last Wednesday on WLS-AM in which radio hosts Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft asked about the 2004 death of David Koschman, who was struck, according to police, by Richard “R.J.” Vanecko, the nephew and grandson of two mayors named Daley.
Anyone who has followed this story knows neither the Chicago Police nor the Cook County state’s attorney’s office (where, at the time, Alvarez was third in command) displayed what could be described as zeal investigating this 2004 “heater” case.
Wolf and Proft asked why it had to take 8½ years and the appointment of Special Prosecutor Dan Webb to finally charge Vanecko?
“When the incident occurred, obviously police looked at it,” said Alvarez. “There was a call asking for advice on the case, never a call asking us to charge this case. That’s what’s been misreported. Police never asked for charges on this.”
Never ASKED for charges?
Police and prosecutors are not known for their politeness when it comes to charging a case. Prosecutors can override the cops and charge anyway. And police top brass can go over the head of reluctant prosecutors.
Any other reason there were no charges back in 2004?
Alvarez’s answer to this question is much, much worse.
David Koschman’s mother, she said, didn’t ask.
“I feel horrible for Mrs. Koschman that she lost her only child,” said Alvarez. “It’s a tragedy. It’s horrific that she has to go through that.”
“But there was no contact with her and our office demanding this be charged,” said Alvarez.
I can only imagine an incredulous radio audience.
Nanci Koschman, who took out a second mortgage to pay for David’s funeral, was racked with grief. She still is. She’d be the first to tell you she didn’t have a clue it was her job to contact the state’s attorney’s office, not vice versa.
Alvarez, let’s remember, early on declared that David Koschman, who never threw a punch, was the aggressor.
Alvarez, let’s remember, vigorously fought the appointment of a special prosecutor.
Yet it’s Alvarez who wants us all to know it was she who first sought an “independent” probe of the case. What she always fails to add is that when she asked the Illinois State Police to investigate it, their incoming top cop was, just days earlier, her lead investigator.
The State Police, wisely, declined the offer apparently knowing a conflict of interest when they see one.
Not at all.