WOODSTOCK – A fired McHenry County prosecutor had his year-old federal lawsuit brought back to life by an appellate court and also has filed new documents alleging that State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi slandered his reputation.
A civil lawsuit filed in 2012 by former Assistant State’s Attorney Kirk Chrzanowski was dismissed six months after it was filed. Last week, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, sending it back to the federal trial court judge.
In a separate civil filing in McHenry County, Chrzanowski alleges that comments State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi made to the Northwest Herald after his termination damaged Chrzanowski’s business and professional reputation.
Chrzanowski is seeking unspecified damages in excess of $50,000 from each case.
The federal lawsuit claims Chrzanowski was fired for testifying about allegations that Bianchi had improperly arranged a plea deal for a defendant who was a relative of Ron Salgado, a state’s attorney’s office investigator.
Bianchi, who eventually was criminally indicted twice by special prosecutors, was acquitted after two separate bench trials before the defense called any witnesses.
Chrzanowski says that after he was disclosed as a potential witness for the prosecution, Bianchi allegedly began retaliating by placing negative information in his personnel file – which had otherwise contained positive feedback.
One example was a memo in which Bianchi said Chrzanowski failed to introduce him to two college students who were interning at the office.
“He never would have thought of introducing me to them had I not stopped him and made a point of it,” Bianchi allegedly wrote in the memo.
A federal judge dismissed the case in July 2012, saying that Chrzanowski’s testimony wasn’t subject to First Amendment protections; it was part of his duties as a public official. In short, the federal appellate court ruled on Friday that his testimony did not fall within his purview as an assistant state’s attorney.
“Kirk was doing the right thing in testifying against [Bianchi] because he believes in the right thing,” his attorney, Rebecca Lee, said. “It’s not about punishment, it’s about making sure justice is served.”
Bianchi had little comment, other than saying he intends to “vigorously” defend himself against the allegations.
“I have no doubts we will win either lawsuit,” Bianchi said.
Criminal Division Chief Michael Combs also is named as a co-defendant in the federal lawsuit.
In his most recent civil lawsuit, Chrzanowski says Bianchi’s comments to a former Northwest Herald reporter were intended to damage or harm Chrzanowski’s personal and business reputation.
The statement: “Chrzanowski gave misinformation to the special prosecutor that showed lack of integrity and that was why he was terminated” was not a direct quote, but a paraphrase, from Bianchi.
Chrzanowski now works for an Oak Brook-based law firm. He did not respond to a request for a comment.