Ellen Mauer pleaded not guilty to four counts of perjury stemming her signature on four pages of nominating petitions as the circulator, during a July 5 hearing, before Lake County Circuit Court Judge Victoria Rossetti. An Oct. 23 tentative trial date is slated, with an Aug. 10 pre-trial status hearing for additional motions.
The perjury indictments from the Lake County Grand Jury were handed down June 14, alleging that Mauer, the Community High School District 128 Board’s secretary, and also a principal at Gurnee’s Spaulding School, attested that she signed the four pages as the circulator of the nominating petitions, while the state’s attorney’s office claims she did not.
Similar perjury Indictments were also returned from the grand jury against Denise Zwit, the administrative assistant to Dist. 128 Superintendent Prentiss Lea, for signing three sheets of nominating petitions as the circulator fraudulently. Zwit is scheduled for arraignment July 13. All the nominating petitions, in question, related to the April 4, 2017 consolidated elections.
The charges mirror the case against former Lake County Coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd, who was indicted last February, on five counts of perjury when he signed five pages of nominating petitions in error, as the circulator, and withdrew his candidacy. Mauer, a Republican, is also the second cousin of Pete Couvall, a Democrat, who notarized the petition sheets of Rudd.
“These are separate cases, and this office (Lake County State’s Attorney) has no connection in the prosecution of the former county coroner,” said Cynthia Vargas, the communications manager for the state’s attorney. “That case is being handled by a special prosecutor that was appointed, and this office is not involved.
“Each case is handled individually, and we received information about the most recent indictments, and our investigators acted upon the information, and found there was merit,” she said. “As it is an ongoing criminal prosecution, we cannot discuss further details beyond what is stated in open court, or in the indictments themselves.”
Neither Mauer nor Zwit could not be reached for comment. Both individuals were released on $25,000 recognizance bond meaning their signatures guaranteed their appearance in court, or the bond amount would be assessed with penalties. The bond court hearing took place in June.
Each charge of perjury carries a sentence of two to five years at the maximum, and is a Class 3 felony. Mauer could face a 20- year sentence, and Zwit may be sentenced to 15 years. Both cases are also eligible for probation.
Judge Rossetti is also hearing the case against Rudd, which is set for an Aug. 1 status hearing. Rudd, being represented by defense attorney Jed Stone, has not commented on his case.
Community High School District 128 encompasses the Libertyville and Vernon Hills high schools, and is headquartered at 50 Lakeview Parkway, Suite 101, in Vernon Hills. The board’s Communications Department has not returned requests for comment.
–Perjury trial date set for District 128 School Board secretary–