Former Lake County coroner pleads not guilty to perjury charges

Former Lake County coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd pleaded not guilty Friday to five counts of perjury in front of Judge Victoria Rossetti.Rudd, who served as coroner from 2012 through 2016, said he could not comment on the case on advice from his attorney as he...

Former Lake County coroner pleads not guilty to perjury charges

Former Lake County coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd pleaded not guilty Friday to five counts of perjury in front of Judge Victoria Rossetti.

Rudd, who served as coroner from 2012 through 2016, said he could not Dumanbet comment on the case on advice from his attorney as he left the courtroom.

After the hearing, defense attorney Jed Stone said the charges against Rudd are "political payback," and prosecutors should not "have brought charges in this case."

Rudd faces 2 to 5 years in prison if found guilty on all counts of the felony perjury charges. His trial is tentatively scheduled for July 10. He has been released from Lake County jail after posting the required 10 percent of his $150,000 bail.

Authorities say Rudd was charged because he lied on nominating petitions when seeking re-election in 2016.

According to the indictment obtained by the Daily Herald, Rudd knowingly made a false statement on his re-election petition sheets by signing five different sheets and having them notarized, claiming the signatures on each sheet were signed in his presence and each was genuine.

The nomination sheets were filed Nov. 21, 2015, when Rudd was seeking re-election to the Democratic nomination to the office of Lake County coroner, the court documents read.

Authorities said 15 to 20 signatures on the five nomination petition sheets in question were proved to be false, and at least one signature was from a person who had been dead for more than a decade.

The one-year investigation into the petition signatures was conducted by Lake County sheriff's detectives and the Office of Professional Standards. Illinois appellate prosecutor Brian Towne is handling the prosecution because of a potential conflict of interest with the Lake County state's attorney's office.

Rudd was due to be indicted in front of Judge Daniel Shanes, but Stone filed a substitution of judges to move the case to Rossetti. Stone did not explain why the case judge was substituted.

Rudd initially filed in November 2015 to run as a Democrat in the March 2016 primary. He dropped out of the race and withdrew his nominating papers after they were challenged. He said at the time he would not have enough signatures to remain on the ballot should the objections be upheld.

In June, Rudd filed similar petitions to run as an independent in the November general election. However, Democratic candidate Michael P. Donnenwirth and Waukegan resident Keith E. Turner filed objections to those petitions, claiming Rudd could not run as an independent in the same election cycle in which he filed as a Democrat.

The three-member electoral board upheld the objections in July, as did an appellate court in October. Rudd ran as a write-in candidate but fell far short in the November general election. Republican Howard Cooper won the position.

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