CHICAGO – A nephew of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter Friday in the death of a man he got into a fight with outside a bar in 2004.
Richard J. Vanecko entered the plea at a Rolling Meadows courthouse as part of a deal with a special prosecutor. In exchange, Vanecko will serve 60 days in the McHenry County Jail followed by 60 days of home confinement. He also was ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution.
Twenty-one-year-old David Koschman died days after he fell and struck his head during the fight outside a bar in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood.
The case has generated widespread media attention, fueled in large part by stories in the Chicago Sun-Times. The stories raised questions about whether Chicago police and Cook County prosecutors mishandled the original case. Koschman's family contended there was a police cover-up.
Dan Webb, a former U.S. attorney and one of the city's most prominent defense attorneys, led a special grand jury investigation into authorities' handling of Koschman's death. But in September, Webb announced that no charges would be filed against police or prosecutors. At the time, Webb said it was impossible to seek charges related to the original investigation because the three-year statute of limitations had run out.
The 39-year-old Vanecko of Costa Mesa, Calif., had been scheduled to go on trial in less than three weeks when he made a surprise appearance to enter the plea at Friday's pretrial hearing.
Judge Maureen McIntye, who accepted the plea, ordered Vanecko to apologize to Koschman's mother, Nanci Koschman.
"I felt terrible about this since the moment I heard David was injured," Vanecko said in court. "I cannot imagine the pain and suffering Mrs. Koschman has gone through."
Nanci Koschman told the judge: "I have a little peace of mind. I know I got a little justice for David."