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Bianchi's second trial is under way

WOODSTOCK – A special prosecutor dropped one count of official misconduct against McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi before proceeding today with opening statements on the two remaining counts.

Bianchi was indicted for a second time in February, accused of official misconduct for allegedly pushing to drop a case involving a politically connected doctor. In another charge, he is accused of encouraging less prison time for a “nephew” of his chief investigator.

The third charge, which was dropped today, related to Bianchi allegedly seeking a bond reduction for a family member and delaying the case until his office started a first offender program.

Special prosecutor Thomas McQueen said that Bianchi failed to execute his duties as a state's attorney and violated a number of ethical duties when he did not recuse himself from the cases involving two defendants: Tom Salvi and Jeremy Reid.

Testimony this morning was relevant to the case of Salvi, a politically connected doctor who in 2000 ran unsuccessfully against state Rep. Jack Franks for the 63rd District seat.

Salvi was charged with disorderly conduct after allegedly approaching a 27-year-old woman in June 2010 and asking whether he could undress for her. Bianchi's office dropped the charges after the alleged victim agreed in exchange for a letter of apology and an agreement that Salvi seek counseling.

McQueen said that Bianchi knew Salvi and his wife in the community and that they attended the same church. At one point, Bianchi called him following media coverage of the charge and told him, "I'm sorry you're getting all this bad publicity, Tom," McQueen said.

Bianchi's attorney, Terry Ekl, said that the evidence in the case against Bianchi will not even amount to probable cause.

"Most of of what Mr. McQueen just told you is fairy tale stuff and is not going to be borne out in evidence," he said.

Tom Salvi's brother, lawyer Pat Salvi, represented him in the case. Pat Salvi took the stand and testified that he communicated with Bianchi, who told him that with misdemeanor cases, it is at the discretion of the police department as to whether charges would be filed.

Pat Salvi said he was attempting to persuade police that the matter not find its way into the criminal courts.

"I think [Bianchi] said he thought that was a good idea," Pat Salvi said.

An issue at hand is the fact that the case against Tom Salvi ended up being dropped with prejudice, so that it could not be refiled – but Pat Salvi said he thought it was a fair conclusion.

The victim in the case was satisfied, his brother was in counseling and had been punished enough with a barrage of media coverage, plus it was a weak case, Pat Salvi said.

Demetri Tsilimigras, deputy chief of the criminal division for the McHenry County State's Attorney's Office, personally met with the alleged victim.

Tsilimigras said he presented three options to her: go forward and go to trial, enter a plea agreement, or dismiss the case if she wanted.

But he said Bianchi made it clear that it was her decision.

"He said if she wants to go to trial, we'll go to trial, and I agreed with him on that," Tsilimigras said.

The fact that the case ended up being dismissed with prejudice was irrelevant because they didn't intend to refile it, he said.

McQueen, however, argued that Bianchi was "bending over backward" for the Salvis, especially because the case was dismissed before prosecutors had looked at all the relevant information, particularly a videotaped statement from the woman and 911 tapes.

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