Jail policy gets fresh review on heels of Vanecko sentence

Out of county imates charged at a rate of $16 per day

Richard J. Vanecko
Richard J. Vanecko

WOODSTOCK – On the heels of news that revealed McHenry County taxpayers are footing much of the bill for the jail stay of a high-profile inmate and former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's nephew, an outdated and underused jail policy will be reviewed.

Richard J. Vanecko, 39, is serving his 60-day jail sentence in McHenry County after he pleaded guilty in January to involuntary manslaughter.

McHenry County charges $16 a day to house out-of-county inmates such as Vanecko, but the expense to house out-of-county inmates is more than the county charges. These requests are few an far between, the county said.

Vanecko's attorneys cited security reasons and asked that he serve his sentence here rather than in Cook County. McHenry County Judge Maureen P. McIntyre – who was tapped to preside over the trial – allowed it, and said Vanecko must pay for his stay.

"Vanecko is by no means being treated special by receiving that $16 [a day rate]," Court Administrator Dan Wallis said. "It is what it is."

Vanecko paid $960 upon being booked, jail officials said.

In a contract with the U.S. Marshals Service, McHenry County is reimbursed at a rate of $85 per inmate, per day to house federal immigration detainees. If Vanecko were charged at that rate, he would have paid $5,100.

Figures for how much it costs to house other inmates each day were not immediately available.

The out-of-county inmate rate goes back to 1997, when a former chief judge of the 19th Circuit – of which McHenry County was then a part – raised it to $12 a day. It was increased again in 1999 to $16.

"Since that time it hasn't been revisited," Wallis said.

All McHenry County officials contacted for this story, including Wallis, County Administrator Peter Austin, Undersheriff Andy Zinke and Deputy Chief at the jail Dan Sedlock, agreed it's time to revisit the rate.

Under state law, McHenry County Chief Judge Michael Sullivan would have to issue an administrative order setting a rate that was agreed upon by the circuit court and the county board.

"At this point, there will be conversations about it," Wallis said. "The court is more than willing to sit down with the [parties involved]."

Jail sentences served here for out-of-county charges are rare, Sedlock said. The jail gets about one or two requests each year. Most of those inmates are people who were criminally charged out of state – a DUI while on vacation, for example – and ask to serve their sentence at home, Sedlock said.

Currently, Vanecko is the only out-of-county inmate serving his sentence in McHenry County.

Vanecko was involved in a 2004 fight outside a Chicago bar that led to the death of 21-year-old David Koschman. The case gained widespread attention and raised questions about whether there was a police cover-up that extended to the Daley family's powerful influence. A special prosecutor's report later concluded there was no evidence that Daley or other family members sought to impede the investigation into Koschman's death.

Vanecko will be released April 15. His incarceration is followed by 60 days of home confinement. Judge McIntyre also ordered that he pay $20,000 in restitution to the Koschman family.

• The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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