Former Lake County Coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd was indicted on charges of perjury, stemming from five pages of nomination petitions for the April 2016 primary election where he erroneously signed as the petition circulator, and were certified by a notary public.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Department announced the indictment charges at a Feb. 15 news conference.
The five counts of perjury, one for each page, are Class III Felony level charges, each punishable by 2-5 years of incarceration and fines. Rudd, through his defense attorney, Jed Stone, opted to forego arraignment before a judge, and was bonded out Feb. 16, by furnishing 10 percent of the required $150,000 bond amount ($30,000 per charge).
“We found names of people on the petitions that have been dead for 10 years,” said Lake County Undersheriff Ray Rose.
It was stated that an investigation was “casting a wider net,” through Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim’s office.
Rudd was given a Feb. 24 court date before Circuit Court Judge Daniel Shanes, for a pretrial hearing. Stone was given the indictments, signed by Nerheim, the day after the charges were made public.
“We want to know what the offense is, before we mount a defense,” said Stone. “Why these charges come a year after the petitions were withdrawn, and he admitted his error, I can’t say. We opted to bond out, rather than appear before a judge, as it was easier on his wife.”
The complete package of nominating petitions was withdrawn in December 2015, after the county’s Election Board of Review had slated a hearing on the heels of an objection filed by now-Lake County Republican Party chairman Mark Shaw. Five pages of signatures were signed by Rudd as the circulator, and investigators hired by an outside firm approached voters to identify if Rudd actually requested them to sign.
Rudd had admitted that he was unaware, made a mistake, and withdrew his candidacy. He later tried to mount an Independent campaign that garnered more than 14,000 signatures, but was denied a ballot slot on election technicalities that were declared unconstitutional. The unsigned circulator verification pages were included in the petitions returned to him by volunteers, during the 2015 primary signature-gathering period. There were also four pages of 60th District state Rep. Rita Mayfield’s petitions mixed in.
He was informed that he could fill in the blank slots, and the five petition pages were notarized by Pete Covell.
It was in Judge Shane’s courtroom last August, during the Melissa Calusinski evidentiary hearing, that Rudd was called as a defense witness to attest to his findings that 18-month-old toddler, Benjamin Kingan, had a pre-existing injury that led to his death, and his cause and manner finding being changed to “undetermined.” Prosecutors attempted to discredit his testimony by presenting 34 affidavits to Shanes, related to the petitions, and calling Rudd “a fraud.”
Rudd has ruffled feathers in Lake County for his controversial findings on the Kingan case, the Darrin Hanna wrongful death, and most recently, the Justus Howell shooting in Zion. He and his office have maintained that the physical and scientific evidence were the bulwarks for their decisions.
He expressed his opinions on the case of former Fox Lake police officer Lt. Charles Gliniewicz, for an early February episode of CNBC’s American Greed, citing his findings of suicide, more than $300,00 in Fox Lake Explorer Post 300 bank accounts, not “tens of thousands,” revealed at a Federal Bureau of Investigations victimology report, and irregularities in the county’s investigation.
After Gliniewicz’s Sept. 1 shooting, he gained national attention for refusing to commit to a “homicide, suicide, undetermined, or accidental” ruling, and drew the ire of Lake County Major Crimes Task Force and sheriff’s department officials for hindering their homicide investigation.
“There has never been anyone charged, or indicted, on this type of thing in the history of the state of Illinois,” said Matt Stanton, a civil attorney, and former Lake County State’s Attorney candidate. “This is Lake County, the home of wrongful convictions … government in action, but who’s government? Thoreau said that when in unjust times, you’ll find the only just man is in jail.”
Stone also echoed the phrase, during a press conference, in front of the Lake County Jail facility. “Dr. Rudd is an honorable man, and served the people of this county to the best of his ability. He should be honored, and thanked. This kind of thing has never happened in the history of Illinois law,” said Stone.
Lake County Black Lives Matter Chairman Clyde Mclemore stated, “This is because he wouldn’t kiss the ring … and that ring belongs to (Lake County State’s Attorney) Mike Nerheim.”
Rudd declined to comment.
— Former Lake County coroner Rudd charged with perjury —