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Special Prosecutor's Report In David Koschman Death Released

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 4, 2014 5:10PM

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David Koschman (left) and Richard "RJ" Vanecko.

The 162-page special prosecutor’s report in the 2004 death of David Koschman was released Tuesday morning, detailing the steps and people attorney Dan Webb interviewed in his investigation as to why Daley family member Richard “RJ” Vanecko wasn’t charged in Koschman’s death until December 2012.

Webb interviewed 146 people during his investigation, including former Mayor Richard M. Daley and eight relatives of Vanecko; issued 160 subpoenas for documentary evidence and testimony and collected over 22,000 documents and over 300,000 pages of records during the nearly 18-month investigation.

Here’s what Webb found:

Daley knew of the altercation within hours of it happening.

From the report:

According to Matthew Crowl (Former Mayoral Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety), he was informed by someone at CPD of Mayor Daley’s nephew’s involvement in the incident on Division Street and immediately informed Mayor Daley in person of what he had heard. While Crowl was uncertain of the exact date, he believed he became aware of the Koschman matter shortly after the incident.

Daley told Webb he was unable to pinpoint a specific time when he discovered Vanecko’s involvement but that he “made it clear to his staff and the public that because he was Vanceko’s uncle, he had recused himself from any involvement in the Koschman matter.”

Area 3 Detectives Knew Of Vanecko’s relationship to Daley.

Police reports indicated detectives at Area 3 Headquarters didn’t know about Vanecko’s involvement until May 18, 2004. But Police Lt. Richard Rybicki told Webb’s grand jury otherwise.

Rybicki testified that CPD knew of the Mayor’s nephew’s (Vanecko) involvement only a “couple of days” after April 25, 2004, when the case arrived at Area 3. According to Rybicki, he was not present when the case first arrived at Area 3 but became aware of it hours later, or possibly the next day. Rybicki first learned of Vanecko’s involvement in the incident “pretty shortly thereafter,” or within a “a couple of days” of learning about the case. According to Rybicki, he first learned of Vanecko’s involvement when the investigation was still in its early stages and Rita O’Leary and Clemens were working the case. Although Rybicki could not recall the specific details of any conversations with Chasen about the case, he recalled having one conversation with Chasen where it came up that “holy crap, maybe the mayor’s nephew is involved.”

”Limited evidence” of a cover up by police.

Although two police investigations determined that Vanecko threw the punch that eventually killed Koschman, he was never brought up on charges and Webb could find little evidence that police conspired to “manufacture a phony self-defense” claim against Koschman.

“The earlier draft made no mention of self-defense, while the later draft concluded that Vanecko had acted in self-defense. Under these circumstances, the public could well conclude that the entire claim of self-defense came not from Vanecko, but, rather, was conjured up in the minds of law enforcement. “A discerning citizen could well surmise that it simply is an argument made of whole cloth. Whether Vanecko may, in fact, have a valid claim of self-defense should properly be for him to raise, not the police.”

No other charges will be brought against investigators in the case. Webb writes in the report, "Under Illinois law, no prosecution can be commenced against any individual under these statutes if the final act in commission of the crime occurred more than three years ago."

Richard Vanecko pleaded guilty last Friday to involuntary manslaughter charges and was sentenced to 60 days in McHenry County Jail; another 60 days of electronic home monitoring; 30 months of probation and ordered to pay in restitution to Koschman’s mother, Nanci. Webb was appointed special prosecutor by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Michael P. Toomin.

The Death of David Koschman - Report of the Special Prosecutor.pdf by Chicagoist