Sunday, February 21, 2016

BFFs of Judge Liam Brennan XOX: Jurisprudence The DuPage Way


Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart FivePart SixPart SevenPart EightPart NinePart TenPart ElevenPart Twelve, 
Part Thirteen, Part Fourteen

On Oct. 1, 2015, 18th Circuit Court Judge Liam Brennan convicted former DuPage County Forest Preserve IT employee David Tepper of 29 felony counts in the most over-charged case in Illinois history. Brennan later sentenced Tepper to 180 days in jail - six days for each felony - and $83,000 in fines for "intent to defraud". Tepper has appealed this conviction. Following are never-reported and under-reported connections of Brennan and a Forest Preserve vendor directly related to this case, and the offices of the State's Attorney and the former Chief Judge. 

September 18, 2015 - Day Five of the eight-day criminal trial of a former DuPage County Forest Preserve IT employee David Tepper and former vendor Arif Mahmood - was bizarre

Employment attorney Leigh Jeter of Clark Baird Smith LLP was appearing as the only witness for the prosecution that day. After introducing her credentials, she explained that she had been hired by the DuPage County Forest Preserve to perform the exit interview of Tepper on Nov. 4, 2011. When asked who attended this exit interview in addition to herself, Jeter supplied names of Tepper and former Human Resources Director Laura Capizzano. She also named a fourth person.

Tepper's defense attorney, Terry Ekl, raised strong objections on various matters. The prosecution sought a recess. Judge Liam Brennan agreed. When the judge, bailiff, court reporter, court secretary, two prosecutors, investigator, defense team, defendants and observers filed in 2 1/2 hours later, the prosecution apologized and announced that they had withdrawn their witness. Day Five was done.

The fourth person Jeter had named still hung in the court room air...

Vince Durante.

Vince Durante - Pot Hole Fixer by Day, Covert IT Investigation Subcontractor by Night Day, Too

Vince Durante is the son of local GOP-heavyweight Pat DurantePat is perhaps best-known as an aide and gate-keeper of the late U.S. Congressman Henry Hyde (R-Ill. 6) whose name everyone walks under entering the court house's front door. Pat was a long-time Board member and former chairman of the DuPage County Republicans. For over 40 years - since 1974 - Pat has served as chairman of the Addison Township Republicans, an organization aligned closely with former president of the DuPage Forest Preserve District Dewey Pierotti. Pat circulated a candidate petition last fall for Brennan's campaign and had endorsed him.

Pat also serves on the Board of Directors of the Regional Transit Authority since his appointment over 20 years ago in 1995 and chairs the RTA's Audit Committee.

The State of Illinois database reports that Vincent Durante of DuPage County is an employee of the Illinois Department of Transportation as a "technical manager V" with a salary of $98,472.19. He was featured in the ABC-7 News Special Segment, "Road Warriors", using high-tech tools to fix potholes. 

Invoices submitted to the Forest Preserve show that Vince was also moonlighting during business hours for JRM Consulting, Inc. of Naperville in some capacity -- as freelancer or subcontractor -- to participate in the 2011 "internal investigation" of the IT Department.

Pierotti testified on the stand that he had hired JRM in the summer of 2011 to conduct the $66,000 covert forensic investigation without the knowledge and consent of Board of Commissioners or even Executive Director Brett Manning. Pierotti admitted under oath that he did not trust Manning. Forest Preserve outside attorney Bob Mork was the only other person aware of the investigation when it began, according to Pierotti. 

Mork, now deceased, wielded extraordinary power at the District; trial testimony supported that Mork was the go-to guy for signing off all invoices "BM" and answering questions on contract fulfillment of vendors. After Mork died, Pierotti openly disclosed in a board meeting that he and former treasurer and current Forest Preserve paid "consultant" Mark the Barber had met with Mork on multiple occasions in the weeks and days prior to his death to discuss Forest Preserve business.

By October or sooner, Pierotti and Mork were in Forest Preserve contract talks with "game changers" Reverse Spin, DuPage County's purveyor of government spin. Reverse Spin was noted for their extensive tax-paid work for Illinois state's attorneys in pickles.

Forest Preserve commissioners and executive staff were finally told about JRM. Although the report was completed and two IT staff people out of the way, findings still weren't quite ready to be submitted to the DuPage County State's Attorney's office. First, the federally-mandated off-site back-up data and archives contained in equipment owned by Arif Mahmood of Alamach Technology, Inc. had to be seized. 

Forest Preserve techies had been unaware of the political apparatus positioning around them, probably never realizing that information buried deep within the off-site data storage drives' megabytes, kilobytes and exabytes was radioactive. Whatever it was, it had to be urgently and secretly deleted. To make this happen required that they be forced out and simultaneously discredited before they spoke out. 

JRM invoices strongly suggest that its subcontractors had destroyed crucial information on Mahmood's equipment during the 12-day period prior to Forest Preserve releasing the report to the State's Attorney. Trial discovery later proved that evidence had been scrubbed. Prosecution witness and JRM "subcontractor" Mark Broyles admitted under oath during the trial that data had been erased.

Broyles on the stand was risky enough for the prosecution. Inserting Vince Durante's name opened the door for questioning about why he was at Tepper's exit interview, the company he was working for and the name of JRM's owner...

Jerry Marquardt.

Marquardt Family Provided Free, Undisclosed Professional Political Consulting on Brennan's Campaign Website and His Fundraiser held at DuPage County Forest Preserve Property, and Circulated and Notarized Brennan's Candidate Petitions During the Forest Preserve IT Case... Meanwhile State's Attorney Bob Berlin Gave Keynote Address at Brennan's Fundraiser during Case

Jerry Marquardt owns and manages JRM Consulting, Inc. - the company secretly hired by Pierotti and Mork to conduct the convert investigation at the Forest Preserve's IT Department in 2011. 
No information could be located on-line during this period showing that JRM had expertise or licenses to conduct forensic investigations -- a specialized field usually involving advanced training and certification.

Citizen watchdogs claim there were numerous political ties and conflicts of interest surrounding the JRM internal investigation leading to the charges. Questions of fairness and even legitimacy have been raised. While JRM findings were used to open the investigation at the State's Attorney's office, their report contained no mention of USA Digital which led to the only convictions in the case.

JRM has designed government websites for Winfield Township and the Bloomingdale, Milton, Naperville and York Township Assessor's offices. JRM has also been paid $39,493 since 1999 for professional political IT consulting projects for Republicans in Illinois, including payment of over $14,000 for goods and services by Citizens to Elect Joe Birkett.

A source inspection reveals that JRM at minimum has provided the JPG's and the RSS feed of Brennan's campaign website**:

<link rel="shortcut icon" href="" type="image/x-icon" />

<img src="" alt="Liam Brennan" /></a>

<a href=""><img class="

src="" alt="Elan011r" width="200" height="300"

<a href=''>RSS feed</a>.</div>

Although the proxy is hidden, references within the source inspection show that JRM is involved with the website, possibly as webmaster and/or creator. The website was public prior to the trial.

Any work by JRM was not accounted by the judge's campaign, neither as an expenditure nor as an in-kind contribution. JRM's investigation was mentioned frequently during the trial last fall. A JRM subcontractor was a witness on the stand. There was no disclosure of any website work for the judge during the bench trial.

Marquardt is a recognized name within the DuPage Republican Party. 

Jerry's brother, Scott Marquardt, and Jerry's sister-in-law, Barbara Skurka/Marquardt, team up at the law firm, Marquardt & Belmonte, PC of Wheaton. Scott and Barbara are former assistant DuPage County State's Attorneys. In fact, all seven attorneys listed at the law firm cut their legal teeth at the same office that prosecuted the Forest Preserve IT cases and the same office where Brennan had been employed. Consequently, the firm's expertise is criminal defense law. 

Scott has represented his brother in Forest Preserve matters related to the IT case.

Scott is also a lobbyist at a firm named after the founder and the late father of the brothers, Roger C. Marquardt & Co. This firm is paid $4,000 per month by the DuPage County State's Attorney's office for lobbying services.

On reports to the Illinois State Board of ElectionsBarbara uses one of two last names -- Skurka or Marquardt. There is no hyphenation. Skurka/Marquardt has received $413,525.00 as an established, professional political fundraiser. Her top-paying clients were/are campaigns of DuPage State's attorneys including Jim Ryan and Birkett. Since Bob Berlin was appointed State's Attorney, Skurka/Marquardt has been on a retainer for his campaign; currently she is paid $1,500 monthly.

An invitation to Brennan's fundraising "reception" for April 30, 2015 read: Contact Barb for more information - or call 630-221-9200.** The phone number belongs to the Marquardt lobbying firm. Professional work for organizing this fundraiser was not accounted by Friends of Judge Liam Brennan, neither as an expenditure nor as an in-kind contribution. 

Brennan's fundraiser was held at Danada House - property of the DuPage County Forest Preserve - during the period the judge was officiating the Forest Preserve IT criminal case. Public records show that Marquardt's double-client State's Attorney Bob Berlin "spoke very highly of Judge Liam Brennan", his former co-worker, to the 100+ guests. DuPage's top prosecutor circulated a candidate petition for Brennan's campaign in 2015. He is also listed among supporters on Brennan's campaign website, although this was not publicly disclosed to the defense. 
Click HERE** for a merry photo on the Citizens for Bob Berlin Facebook page featuring long-time chums Berlin and head of the DuPage County Judicial Felony Division Liam Brennan.

Another guest at Brennan's fundraiser was Illinois Supreme Court Justice Bob ThomasThe Illinois Supreme Court announced on Nov. 25, 2014 that Brennan was moving to head the Circuit Court's felony division. Brennan immediately replaced Judge Blanche Fawell whom had been presiding over the IT case for over two years. During this time, sitting Chief Judge John Elsner was negotiating to become the Forest Preserve's contracted attorney for $150,000 upon his retirement on Nov. 28th; on Dec. 2, 2014, his new contract was confirmed.

In an August 2015 hearing of the Forest Preserve IT case, Brennan made a point of disclosing that potential witness Forest Preserve President Joe Cantore had endorsed his campaignThe judge stated that Cantore's name was on his list of supporters, but that they had never met. There was no disclosure at the time that Cantore's business, the 915 Building Account, had made a $250 contribution to the judge's campaign on May 5, 2015. (Cantore has also endorsed Berlin and donated $200 to state's attorney's campaign three weeks before the trial.)

In addition to lobbying, Roger C. Marquardt & Co. provides other services to clientele, as demonstrated by one of their representatives...

Chip Humes.

Brennan's Campaign Statement of Organization Faxed from Roger C. Marquardt & Co. Lobbying Firm to State Board of Elections, Brennan and Berlin's Campaign Chairman John Millner Subcontracts under Marquardt Lobbying Firm, and Marquardt Lobbyist Pulled and Dispersed Candidate Petitions of Brennan's Opposition

On Mar. 19, 2015, the Statement of Organization for the campaign "Friends of Judge Liam Brennan" was faxed at 3:28 to the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBOE). The top margin of the fax reveals "MARQUARDT" with the phone number belonging to the lobbying firm. 

Former Illinois State Senator John Millner is listed as both the chairman of Friends of Judge Liam Brennan and Citizens for Bob Berlin. A Daily Herald article on Roger Marquardt's 2012 death published history of the long friendship of Roger and Millner: Millner remembered his longtime friend as larger-than-life -- the type of person you felt good after talking to. According to the Illinois Secretary of State's lobbying registration database, Millner's lobbying firm subcontracts under Roger C. Marquardt & Co.

Two of three petitions Brennan circulated for his campaign are notarized by Carrie Van Tilburg, Client Relationship Specialist at the Marquardt lobbying firm. The notarization took place on the same bizarre Day Five of the Forest Preserve IT case. Scott Marquardt also circulated a candidate petition for Brennan's campaign using the same notary.

John "Chip" Humes ran for state rep in the 46th district in the 2012 primary, supported by Berlin and his Addison Township Republican chair, Pat Durante. Humes is a co-owner of his family's business, Humes Funeral Home of Addison, and a lobbyist at Roger C. Marquardt & Co. Humes and his family support Brennan.

ISBOE records also show that on Nov. 23, 2015, Humes requested the petitions of Brennan's Republican challenger Thomas Laz. On Nov. 30th, Humes twice requested the petitions of Democratic candidate Jennifer Shilakis Wiesner running against Brennan - at 9:34 am and again at 10:02 am. These petitions quickly made their way to ballot objectors former DuPage Young Republican President Matthew Pike of Lombard and Joan Brennan of Addison. (Humes did not request the petitions of Brennan.)

Ballot objection hearings were held Jan. 20th at the DuPage County Election Commission. Commission contracted attorney and former DuPage County Asst. State's Attorney Pat Bond, shown HERE in a photo with Scott Marquardt and Berlin, has contributed over $200,000 to DuPage Republicans. From 2011 through 2013, the Marquardt lobbying firm represented the Election Commission. Bond, Dickson & Assoc. staff attorney Sean Conway notarized Brennan's Statement of Candidacy on Nov. 19, 2015 -- a courtesy the firm has historically provided to DuPage Republican candidates.

Bond did not preside at the hearings. Instead, the Commission asked a new face to step in as hearing officer...

John Z. Toscas.

DuPage County Election Commission Booted Brennan Challengers off Ballot after Recommendations of Hearing Officer Politically-Connected with Scott Marquardt and Commission Attorney

On May 7, 2013, attorney John Z. Toscas was appointed Hearing Officer for of Bensenville. That same evening, Pat Bond was reappointed as Village attorney. Marquardt & Belmonte, PC was appointed as Village prosecutors. All these attorneys have contributed to Bensenville Village President Frank Soto's political campaign.

Toscas had reportedly never served as a hearing officer for a ballot dispute or any electoral matter. However, he knows what it feels like to be a candidate.

During his 2015 race for mayor of the Village of Crestwood, Ill., Bond had contributed $500 and Marquardt & Belmonte had donated $150 to the Taxpayer's Relief Party, which dispersed funding to three candidates including Toscas. In Toscas' 2015 race for Village trustee, Bond gave $1,000, while Scott Marquardt, Bill Belmonte and Roger C. Marquardt & Co. gave $1,250 collectively to the New Leadership Party supporting Toscas and four other candidates.

The Commission's decision making to hire Toscas was not public. Toscas recommended to the DuPage County Election Commission that both Brennan's opponents Laz and Wiesner be removed from the ballot. They agreed. Election commissioners are appointed by DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin without County Board approval. Annual pay for commissioners is $28,000. Cronin is listed as the first supporter of Brennan's campaign under "elected county officials". 

(Update: Friends of Judge Liam Brennan in their D2 quarterly report showed payments to the attorneys representing the objectors - $24,244.88 to Odelson & Sterk, Ltd. on 3/11/16 and $20,739.46 to Laduzinsky & Assoc. on 3/25/16.)

In October, Cronin appointed Jamie Lowe as a commissioner. At the time of the appointment, Lowe resigned as chairman of the Lisle Township Republican Party. In 2015, all DuPage Township Republican chairs had endorsed Brennan. Lowe and Brennan had attended multiple Republican functions together. Brennan's campaign had donated $250 to Lowe's township. Lowe did not recuse himself from the ballot objection hearings, nor did he make disclosures. He voted twice  to remove Brennan's opponents.

Earlier this month, DuPage County Circuit Court Judge Bonnie Wheaton affirmed the decision on Laz, but overturned the decision on Wiesner. (Update: Joan Brennan filed an appeal with the Illinois Second District Appellate Court, which agreed with Wheaton's decision for Wiesner to remain on the ballot.)

Tax payers paid Toscas $3,217.50 for the ballot hearings and $3,802.50 for the Circuit Court appeals. (Toscas' bill for the appeal to District 2 has not yet been made public.)

Nine Years Ago...Brennan in Car with Radostits and Kendall after Leaving Oak Brook Restaurant

On May 11, 2007, DuPage County prosecutor 
Jane Radostits was killed in a crash while driving a county car speeding on Winfield Road south of Roosevelt Road in Winfield. The collision also seriously injured another driver. Radostits' blood alcohol was three times the legal limit for intoxication.

Earlier that day, according to news articles following the release of the Sheriff's 32-page report, Radostits and her supervisor Deputy Chief Assistant State's Attorney Jeffrey Kendall made plans to meet an Oak Brook restaurant after a bomb threat required evacuation of the state's attorney's office.

Kendall called co-worker Liam Brennan to invite him and other prosecutors to join them. As many as six assistant state's attorneys and a secretary eventually gathered at the restaurant, including the future state's attorney, Bob Berlin, and David Imielski whom would later work at Marquardt & Belmonte, PC. With the exception of Berlin whom reportedly left within 15 minutes, most of the group stayed at the eatery for several hours.

Radostits consumed three or four drinks served in a martini-style glass and possibly a light beer. The report did not mention if the other prosecutors were drinking, the media published. Around 3 pm, Kendall left the restaurant with Radostits and fellow prosecutors Brennan and Brian Perkins. They reached the county office at 3:30 and the prosecutors went their separate ways. Fifteen minutes later, Radostits was driving her own county-owned vehicle when the crash took place.

Kendall resigned shortly after the accident and took a position as partner with criminal DuPage defense attorney Ernie DiBenedetto. DiBenedetto & Kendall is the firm representing Mark McDonald in the Forest Preserve IT case, presided by Brennan. The firm contributed $2000 to Brennan last May, and Kendall donated an additional $500 in June. $10,000 has been donated to Citizens of Bob Berlin by the firm. Click HERE** for a jovial photo of DiBenedetto at the golf course at Berlin's fundraiser.

A year after the accident, Brennan was appointed associate judge. He is now head of the felony division and routinely presides over DUI cases. Brennan is paid $188,051.14 annually.

** In anticipation of links disappearing after publication, screen shots and photocopies have been made to preserve documentation. There is history of public records being destroyed... 

CountyLeaks Asks:

Is it impossible to have a fair trial in DuPage County?

Exactly who is guilty of "intent to defraud" or "defraud" here?

Will the back-up of a back-up appear during appeal process or civil lawsuit?

Shouldn't the judge during a bench trial of a collective 180 felony counts where he was weighing the credibility of witnesses - eventually convicting someone for his intent to defraud based on failures to disclose - have made some disclosures himself?

Shouldn't the judge during a bench trial of a collective 180 felony counts where he was weighing the credibility of witnesses have disclosed to the defense that top prosecutor endorsed him and was the keynote speaker at his fundraiser held at Forest Preserve property while the case was ongoing? After all, the judge was compelled to disclose that potential witness Joe Cantore had endorsed him? Why stop there? 

Shouldn't the judge during a bench trial where he was weighing the credibility of witnesses have disclosed to the defense that the company that had conducted the covert investigation of the Forest Preserve's IT Department - which opened the door to a broader investigation - and had destroyed crucial evidence prior to trial was providing free professional political services for his campaign?

Shouldn't the judge during a bench trial where he was weighing the credibility of witnesses have disclosed to the defense that his campaign committee's statement of organization was faxed from the office of Roger C. Marquardt's lobbying firm while the case was ongoing - the firm belonging to the Marquardt family which represents the State's Attorney's office?

Shouldn't the judge during a bench trial where he was weighing the credibility of witnesses have disclosed to the defense that he had swung over to the Marquardt lobbying firm to have two of his campaign petitions notarized by a staff person in the middle of the trial? 

Shouldn't the judge during a bench trial where he was weighing the credibility of witnesses have disclosed to the defense that the sister-in-law of the owner of JRM was providing free political services for his political campaign while the case was ongoing?

Shouldn't the judge during a bench trial disclosed to the defense that he had been close friends of Jeffrey Kendall of the firm representing Mark McDonald? Scratch that...the defense already knew... Did defense inform their client?

Shouldn't the judge's campaign committee have disclosed all these professional political services of the Marquardt family as in-kind contributions or expenditures to the Illinois State Board of Elections?

Did Pat Durante instruct the prosecution to keep his son's name out of the trial?

So, at what point does any of this become problematic?

Legal scholars, is there a conflict of interest of criminal cases of Marquardt & Belmonte while the Marquardt family provides free professional political campaign work for the judge heading the entire felony division of the 18th Circuit Court? 

Why was it such a big deal for IDS to disclose subcontractors in contracts, when other Forest Preserve vendors, including JRM, were not required to do so? Did Mork ever subcontract Reverse Spin for advance work?

How is Chip Humes related to the Marquardts?

Should DuPage County prosecutors be crowing about justice being served?

Why was Judge Blanche Fawell yanked from this case after two years and replaced by Brennan? Was it ethical for a sitting chief judge to make this shift while negotiating to be the $150,000 attorney for the Forest Preserve?

Were the wrong guys investigated and prosecuted?

Why were JRM subcontractors asked to destroy evidence prior to the JRM Report going to the State's Attorney's office? Why didn't the State's Attorney's office immediately demand that all records be preserved at the Forest Preserve during the investigation and prosecution? And, once the State's Attorney's office learned that JRM had destroyed crucial evidence, why didn't they big deal it?

What information **had** to be destroyed in the Forest Preserve archives and **why**?

Why would IDOT pot-hole fixer Vince Durante - a JRM subcontractor with no authority and no background in human resources - be allowed to participate in the exit interview of David Tepper? 

Did Reverse Spin cook this entire scheme up?

Did Mark the Barber ever trim Brennan's hair?

Is there a back-up of the back-up?