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Alvarez Defends Handling Of Koschman Case

By Chuck Sudo in News on Dec 4, 2012 4:00PM

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez (Image via Alvarez's Facebook page.)

Monday’s indictment of Daley relative Richard “RJ” Vanecko by a grand jury on involuntary manslaughter charges in the 2004 death of David Koschman brought attention to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office’s handling of the case under former State’s Attorney Dick Devine and current State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Alvarez spoke with reporters after being sworn in for a second term as State’s Attorney Monday and defended her office’s handling of the case. Alvarez, whose office seemed to object to independent investigations into the Koschman case until Cook County Circuit Court Judge Michael P. Toomin appointed attorney Dan Webb as special prosecutor, said her office had empaneled its own grand jury in the case, but didn’t tell anyone because of the sensitive nature of the case.

“That was never made public because it couldn’t be made public,” Alvarez said of the earlier grand jury investigation after being sworn in Monday for her second term in office. “We were in the process of reviewing this case, looking at everything in this case — everything — reinterviewing witnesses, looking at all aspects [of] the underlying case as well as any kind of corruption or cover-up.”

Considering the bang-up job Alvarez’s office did investigating why Vanecko was never charged in Koschman’s death until Monday, it’s probably a good thing she didn’t get a chance to complete her investigation.

After all, Alvarez reportedly blocked Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard’s investigation into how her office handled the Koschman case because she claimed her office is a branch of the state government and out of Blanchard’s jurisdiction. Alvarez said in January there was no need for a special prosecutor in the Koschman case, denied she had a conflict of interest in the case, and only turned over documents related to the case to attorneys representing Koschman’s mother, Nanci, because Toomin ordered her.

Despite Toomin’s admonishment of how her office handled the Koschman case, Alvarez said her office “has handled this case with the utmost integrity from the get-go.”

News of Alvarez's grand jury surprised two of Koschman's friends who were with him the night Vanecko threw the punch that wound up killing him. Scott Allen and Shaun Hagline said they weren't subpoenaed to testify before Alvarez's grand jury, and Alvarez couldn't tell reporters when her office's grand jury investigation began.

Alvarez's words remind us of what Toomin said when he appointed Webb in April.

"The system has failed David Koschman."


"Quite simply, we had a dead body," he said. "This is not a whodunit. We know who did it. We have a known offender and yet no charges."

Toomin has made it clear he wants Webb's investigation to go beyond Vanecko. It looks as though the heat may be reaching Alvarez's office.