Madison County Circuit Judge Christopher Threlkeld appointed a special prosecutor to investigate alleged perjury after Madison County States Attorney Tom Gibbons suggested there may be a conflict of interest with him pursuing the case.
Threlkeld was appointed a circuit judge Jan. 1 to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of former Chief Judge David Hylla.
He granted the appointment of a special prosecutor on Feb. 11, stating that it is required in the “interest of justice.” An amended order was filed Feb. 18.
The order does not provide details on who allegedly committed perjury or what crimes may have taken place.
The order states that the court requests the director of the Office of the State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor to designate an attorney or attorneys to serve as special prosecutor and enter their appearance with the Circuit Clerk.
“[T]he filing of the oath of office shall constitute a recognition and acknowledgment that service as the special prosecutor is at the pleasure of the Illinois Attorney General, who may substitute his/her office as special prosecutor as provided by law,” the order states.
Gibbons was directed to turn all documents, reports and additional information related to the case to the special prosecutor.
He filed a motion for appointment of a special prosecutor on Feb. 10 “for review of evidence and consideration of charges related to perjury.”
“Because the potential for a conflict or appearance of a conflict of interest exists, it is necessary and appropriate that a Special Prosecutor be appointed for immediate review of the investigation and for all decisions regarding prosecution of any charges that may result therefrom,” Gibbons wrote.
While the order for a special prosecutor does not provide any details of the perjury allegation, the investigation comes on the heels of the dismissal of a corruption investigation into individuals within the administration of county Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler.
Visiting Associate Judge Jerry Crisel of the Second Judicial Circuit ended a two-year corruption investigation on Jan. 24, as well as the appointment of the Attorney General’s Office, which had been appointed due to Gibbons' conflict of interest.
The offices of county administrator Doug Hulme, IT director Rob Dorman, and communications manager Cynthia Ellis were first searched in a mid-day raid on Jan. 10, 2018 when computers and other records were taken, prompting additional raids. Prenzler was not subject to the raid.
Hulme said that some but not all items seized in those raids were returned by the Sheriff's Department on the afternoon of Feb. 11, a day after Gibbons filed the motion for appointment of a special prosecutor.
Roughly six months after the first raid took place, Crisel removed the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office from any investigation or prosecution of those involved in the raids and appointed the Illinois Attorney General “to carry out the task with all deliberate speed.”