A judge has ordered an investigation into the Madison County administration be turned over to a special prosecutor, citing a conflict of interest.
Judge Jerry Crisel issued an order Thursday finding a conflict of interest for the investigation and appointed the Illinois attorney general as a special prosecutor in the case.
Madison County Chairman Kurt Prenzler said Friday that he had not seen the order, so he could not comment.
Beyond the initial evidence that was presented to State Attorney Tom Gibbons that led to the formation of the Madison County Corruption Task Force, Gibbons said he had no subsequent information related to the investigation.
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“This task force was formed to be completely independent of Madison County government,” Gibbons said.
He declined to comment further.
Crisel, who sits in the Second Circuit in Mount Vernon, was appointed after Chief Judge David Hylla recused the entire bench of Madison County.
Crisel also gave the AG’s Office wide powers to pursue the case, including impaneling a grand jury, issuing subpoenas and search warrants and eavesdropping devices and surveillance.
Under the appointment, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office has the authority to :
- investigate criminal offenses being committed by Madison County officials, officers or employees in or related to the official capacities the time period of Dec. 1, 2016, until the appointment is terminated.
- follow the investigation into any matter that arose or may arise including criminal offenses committed by persons who are not an official, officer or employee of Madison County but related to the investigation.
- investigate and prosecute crimes committed in the course of the investigation, including perjury, obstruction of justice, communication or harassment of jurors or witnesses, and destruction of evidence.
- prosecute any crimes that arise from the investigation.
- ask for additional jurisdiction and powers beyond those specified in this order so they can fully investigate and resolve the matters involved.
Madison County will pick up the tab for the investigation, under Crisel’s order. Those costs may include expert witnesses fees and expenses, subpoena costs, travel expenses, investigation and prosecution expenses.
Eight search warrants were served on Madison County offices in January, including the offices of public relations manager and then Freedom of Information Officer Cynthia Ellis and Administrator Doug Hulme. Additional search warrants were issued in May on the county’s Information Technology Department.