Richard 'R.J.' Vanecko Pleads Guilty In Death Of David Koschman
By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 31, 2014 10:10PM
Richard "R.J. Vanecko, grandson to one Chicago mayor and nephew to another, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the 2004 death of David Koschman, in a deal reached between his attorneys and Dan Webb, the special prosecutor in a case that began to unfold after it was re-opened in 2011.
McHenry County Court Judge Maureen P. McIntyre sentenced Vanecko to 60 days in McHenry County jail, another 60 days of electronically monitored home confinement, a maximum 30 months of probation, ordered to pay Koschman's mother, Nanci, $20,000 in restitution and offer her a public apology.
Vanecko took care of the apology immediately in court. He stood to address Nanci Koschman and said, "If I could undo what was done, I would. I just want to extend my sincerest apology." Nanci Koschman mouthed "Thank you" to Vanecko in response.
Webb said during the hearing the case boiled down to a "spontaneous punch in the middle of a heated argument." Vanecko's attorney, Tom Breen, said his client is "not the villain people want him to be" and in different circumstances would have gotten along with Koschman.
Vaneck and Koschman were each hanging with friends in the Division and Rush Street nightlife district when, during a heated confrontation, Vanecko punched Koschman in the face and ran away. Koschman fell to the street and died from his injuries 11 days later. The original investigation by then-Cook County State's Attorney Richard Devine resulted in no charges. After the Sun-Times and NBC 5 reported on the case, current State's Attorney Anita Alvarez re-opened the case; once again, no charges were filed even though Vanecko was identified as the one who threw the punch that killed Koschman.
It wasn't until Cook County Circuit Court Judge Michael Toomin appointed Webb as special prosecutor in the case that involuntary manslaughter charges were eventually filed against Vanecko in December 2012. McIntyre was named to oversee a trial after the Illinois Supreme Court approved a request from Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans to appoint an outside judge so that there was no connection between Cook County Judges and the Daley family.