County proposes review of state’s attorney after inspector blocked in Koschman case
By LISA DONOVAN Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org October 4, 2011 2:25AM
Updated: March 26, 2012 9:41AM
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cmsr. John Daley are proposing an ordinance that would give the county inspector general’s office the authority to investigate State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office, a measure put forth by Inspector General Patrick Blanchard after Alvarez blocked him from investigating her office’s handling of a 2004 homicide case involving Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko, a nephew of Daley and of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Blanchard tried to step in after reports in the Chicago Sun-Times earlier this year revealed that the prosecutor’s office couldn’t find any records of its involvement in the 7-year-old case — even though a top prosecutor had decided there wasn’t enough evidence to warrant filing criminal charges against Vanecko after he punched David Koschman and knocked him to the ground in a drunken, late-night confrontation in the Rush Street area. Koschman, a 21-year-old in from Mount Prospect for a night of bar-hopping with friends, died of the resulting head injuries.
In May, Alvarez’s office blocked Blanchard from investigating how her office handled the case, saying he didn’t have jurisdiction becauase the prosecutor’s office is an arm of state government, even though the county funds its operation.
Blanchard’s office has the authority to investigate allegations of fraud, mismanagement, waste and corruption in county government.
He said Monday he helped put together the proposed ordinance, which he says “clarifies” his office’s authority. The proposed legislation says his office could investigate “any government entity that is funded in whole or in part by the county.”
“It includes the state’s attorney and the recorder of deeds, which have objected” to the inspector general’s office’s efforts to review their actions, Blanchard said. “It’s fair to say this issue was brought to our attention when we were asked to open an inquiry in the Koschman case.”
Blanchard said he thinks the ordinance, if passed, would allow him to go back and look at old cases. But he would not say whether he would pursue the state’s attorney’s office’s handling of the Koschman case.
Preckwinkle, who had an unrelated public appearance Monday with Alvarez, said of the proposed ordinance: “We’re trying to get the entire county under the purview of the inspector general.”
Asked about the political sensitivity of the proposal, given his nephew’s involvement in the Koschman case, John Daley — who chairs the county finance committee that’s expected to hear the proposal — said only: “I don’t think it has anything to do with that case.”
Alvarez said she hadn’t looked at the proposal.