Madison - St. Clair Record

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Man charged with attacking Prenzler gets third attorney, new trial date and new lesser charge


By Brian Brueggemann | Mar 14, 2019

A lesser charge of disorderly conduct was filed against an Edwardsville man accused of attacking Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler two years ago at a Catholic church fundraising dinner in Madison.

Special prosecutor David Rands added the misdemeanor charge against defendant Matthew J. Foley on March 6. 

Foley was originally charged by State's Attorney Tom Gibbons on March 27, 2017, with Class 3 felonies of aggravated battery and threatening a public official, as well as a Class A misdemeanor battery charge.

Rands was appointed to the case last year on a request by Foley, whose attorney - then James Gomric - argued that the State's Attorney's office was perceived to be biased "in some form or fashion either for or against the complaining witness."

In January 2018, offices in Prenzler's administration were raided during the middle of a work day by a special investigative task force. Gibbons' office said it had received evidence of possible illegal conduct by unnamed county officials in the later months of 2017. Gibbons has not made any public comments regarding the reason for the raid. No charges have been filed by the state's attorney's office or by a grand jury that was convened in the matter.

Foley's criminal trial also has been pushed back because he hired a new attorney, his third in the case. He was first represented by defense attorney Curtis Dawson and then Gomric. 

Gomric was appointed state's attorney of St. Clair County in January, meaning he can no longer practice law outside the prosecutor's office.

Last week, defense attorney Thomas Kelley of Belleville filed a motion seeking permission to be substituted as counsel for Foley. Madison County Circuit Judge Kyle Napp granted the motion. Foley's trial, which was slated for March 4, is now set for April 8.

Foley is accused of threatening and making physical contact with Prenzler at St. Mary and St. Mark Catholic Church's annual Pig and Lamb dinner on March 11, 2017. Foley allegedly conveyed a threat "that would place Kurt Prenzler in reasonable apprehension of immediate or future bodily harm and the threat was made because of hostility of the defendant toward the position of Madison County chairman of the board."

The charges also accuse Foley of making physical contact "of an insulting or provoking nature with Kurt Prenzler, a person 60 years of age or older in that said defendant placed his hands on the upper body and arm of Kurt Prenzler."

Prenzler told police he suspects he was targeted because he was a whistleblower in a big-rigging scheme involving Madison County's property tax sales.

Foley is a son of James Foley, a former investment manager for Madison County Treasurer Fred Bathon's office. James Foley filed suit against Prenzler in 2011, alleging he was fired for political reasons. A judge issued a verdict in favor of Prenzler.

James Foley was named in a class-action lawsuit involving the tax sales, but he denied any involvement.

Matt Foley is free on $1,000 cash bail and a $4,000 recognizance bond.

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