Friday, July 12, 2013

Now Entering the Ring -- Heavyweight Former Federal Prosecutor Patrick Collins vs. Featherweight DuPage County State's Attorney Bob Berlin


Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart FivePart Six

Chicago attorney Patrick Collins, famous for leading the federal prosecution which placed former Illinois Governor George Ryan in an orange jumpsuit for racketeering and fraud, will be representing Arif Mahmood, a defendant charged with 37 counts for his alleged involvement in a scheme of stealing $150,000 from the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.

Last November, the District's former director of its IT department, Mark McDonald, and the department manager, David Tepper, were each indicted with 140 felony counts, while Mahmood, who worked for Alamach Technology, Inc., an IT vendor for the District, was charged with 37 counts, in the alleged theft scheme.

Nearly two years after losing their Forest Preserve jobs and contract, ten months after their arrests and eight months after their indictments of 317 felony counts, the DuPage County State's Attorney's office still has not produced bill of particulars -- the formal, detailed, written complaint of charges -- as required by law (725 ILCS 5/111-6).

DuPage County Judge Blanche Hill Fawell ordered on May 13th that the State produce a bill of particulars at the hearing scheduled for today at the Henry J. Hyde Judicial Office Facility of Wheaton. After a series of delays over months -- a flood, attorney vacations, attorney non-appearance, and the judge testifying in another criminal case -- DuPage County Asst. State's Attorney Ken Tatarelis requested more time. 

The state was granted a five-week extension until Aug. 19th, as there were no objections from defense attorneys Terry Ekl and Ernie DiBenedetto, representing Tepper and McDonald respectively.

Collins was prepared to begin representing Mahmood in this morning's hearing. However, Mahmood's first attorney, Timothy Martin of Wheaton-based Martin & Kent, LLC, had not yet withdrawn from the case. Reportedly, attempts to contact Martin today prior to the hearing were unsuccessful.

Collins is a partner in Perkins Coie LLP's litigation practice. He previously worked for the United States Department of Justice as an assistant U.S. Attorney, where he led the trial and conviction of former Illinois Governor George Ryan on charges of racketeering and fraud. Calling for urgent ethical reform, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn appointed Collins in 2009 to chair the Illinois Reform Commission

The former federal prosecutor later authored, Challenging the Culture of Corruption: Game Changing Reform for Illinois. Collins outlined four specific necessary reforms: passing true campaign finance reform to eliminate "pay to play" politics; creating a fair and competitive election process; enhancing corruption-fighting tools to state law enforcement; and improving voter access and participation to encourage citizen participation in elections and governance.

In 2010, Collins was selected by the Chicago Law Bulletin as one of Chicago's "Top Ten" attorneys of the decade.

This will not be Collins' first encounter with a DuPage prosecutor. Former DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett had testified before Collins and the Illinois Reform Commission in April 2009 on his ideas to combat public corruption. Live play-by-plays of Birkett's testimony were Tweeted to Birkett's campaign Twitter site from the back of the room while Collins and other commissioners listened. 

Birkett's paid campaign worker and prolific Tweeter, Dan Curry of Reverse Spin, later billed the Illinois State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor for accompanying Birkett to this hearing. Unlike Collins, Reverse Spin is not in favor of campaign finance reform.

Birkett now serves on the bench of the Second District Illinois Appellate Court in Elgin. Details are explained in CountyLeaks' all-time most popular post, "Tweets, Twits & Tax Dollars: Joe Birkett for Illinois, Proven Leader? Proven Corruption Buster?"

CountyLeaks Recommends:

Medill Watchdog's "No Sunshine in the Forest"

CountyLeaks Asks: 

Legal scholars, will the Forest Preserve IT scandal become State's Attorney Bob Berlin's Rolando Cruz case?

Will Berlin show up for the next hearing?

Where was attorney Tim Martin today?

Will Pat Collins be allowed to enter the Henry J. Hyde Judicial Office Facility with other attorneys on Aug. 19th or will he be herded in with the cattle and be required to take off his jacket and belt, empty his pockets, pass through the metal detector, and told to take his cell phone back to his car? After all, he fits the p-r-o-f-i-l-e, right?

Will the defendants finally be presented with their written charges on Aug. 19th, just shy of the one-year anniversary of their arrests?

Why didn't defense attorneys Terry Ekl and Ernie DiBenedetto vehemently object to the extension today?

Why isn't Ekl voicing his outrage in a press conference in front of the court house the way he did for Lou Bianchi? Or is it considered bad form to bark after tything $5,750 to Citizens for Bob Berlin?

Is Ekl recommending the all-for-one-and-one-for-all Three Musketeer strategy for the defendants the way he did for the DuPage Seven? No one copping a plea?

Due to a lack of a bill of particulars, will the DuPage County State's Attorney withdraw the charges and request the classic Nolle Prosequi without Prejudice where they are allowed to reinstate the case in the future and claim that the defendants are under perpetual investigation?

Or can we expect a press conference where the DuPage County State's Attorney announces that due to statutory flaws, the criminal case could not move forward? That the State's Attorney's office will seek legislation whereby a bill of particulars is no longer necessary? Will the lobbyist for the State's Attorney's office, Scott Marquardt, assist in pushing this bill through?

How 'bout the-dog-ate-the-bill-of-particulars excuse?

Another natural disaster perhaps?

Is this the ending...or what Danny Zuko says, "only the beginning"?

Terry Ekl, Ernie DiBenedetto, Reverse Spin...déjà vu of the Lou Bianchi case in McHenry County?  

How many cases has Berlin led against any his crony friends? Same number as his "corruption-busting" predecessor? Does it mean that DuPage County = Pleasantville when it comes to public corruption because the state's attorney refuses to attack the power structure that placed him into office? Everything is peachy?

Ethics scholars, how many conflicts of interest does it take to become a conflict of interest in DuPage County?

Is Reverse Spin still working behind the scenes for the Forest Preserve or State's Attorney's office, perhaps as a subcontractor for an attorney? Does Ekl still have Reverse Spin on speed dial? Knippen?

Say...wasn't a Reverse Spin partner a big down-state fundraiser for George Ryan? Didn't he secure money from He Who Must Not Be Named? Weren't those specific contributions to Ryan the basis for the title of Michale Callahan's book, Too Politically Sensitive

What's ethically-challenged Reverse Spin up to these days with no governmental contracts? Assisting script writers on Frank Underwood maneuvers for House of Cards