Crime & Courts

McHenry County judge extends deadline to identify people behind Illinois Integrity Fund

McHenry County Clerk and Recorder Joe Tirio talks with the Northwest Herald Editorial Board on Sept. 25 in Crystal Lake.
McHenry County Clerk and Recorder Joe Tirio talks with the Northwest Herald Editorial Board on Sept. 25 in Crystal Lake.

A Chicago attorney was unsuccessful Tuesday in her attempt to halt the disclosure of names and addresses connected to an anonymous group that sent out defamatory campaign flyers earlier this year.

In November, McHenry County Judge Kevin Costello ordered attorney Natalie Harris to produce the names and addresses of the group or individual responsible for creating what he ruled was a defamatory flyer. The campaign ad accused McHenry County Clerk and Recorder Joe Tirio of using a secret taxpayer-funded “slush fund” to make patronage hires and take vacations.

Tirio has denied the allegations and hopes to file a civil defamation lawsuit against the entity responsible for the flyers – a group that has identified itself only as the Illinois Integrity Fund.

To file the suit, however, Tirio and his attorney, Philip Prossnitz, must identify the individuals behind the faceless group.

Tirio believes his opponent in the primary race for county clerk, Janice Dalton, and the company who produced the flyers, Breaker Press, know who paid for the attack ads.

Harris, who represents Dalton and Breaker Press, was supposed to disclose their identities by Monday, but now she is appealing Costello’s order to the 2nd District Appellate Court.

On Tuesday, she asked the judge to put matters on hold until the higher court makes its ruling, but Costello declined, fearful of letting the yearlong statute of limitations run out on Tirio’s potential defamation lawsuit.

“A decision from the appellate court is probably months, if not years, away,” Costello said in court Tuesday.

Harris now has until noon Thursday to disclose what information, if any, her clients have about the Illinois Integrity Fund.

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