Ex-Coroner Indicted for Falsifying Election Petitions

Dr. Thomas Rudd, former coroner, last March with his award from the Illinois Association of Law Enforcement Executives. – Jeni Ensslin/theYOUjournal

by Long Hwa-shu

Former Lake County Coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd was indicted Wednesday on perjury charges in connection with his 2016 reelection bid which he lost.

The five-count indictment returned by a special Lake County grand jury was announced at a press conference held by Undersheriff Raymond J. Rose who led a year-long investigation that led to the indictments.

“We ran through thousands of pages of documents in our investigation and interviewed numerous people about his (Rudd’s) petitions for reelection,” said Rose.

Sgt. Christopher Covelli speaking at the press conference. Undersheriff Ray Rose is far left. – LCSO

“Some of the signatures were falsified. Others were supposed to be signatures from people whom we found were already dead,” he pointed out. 

The indictments also charge that Rudd did not circulate the petitions himself as he claimed even though they were notarized.

Brian Towne, special prosecutor from the Illinois Appellate Prosecutor’s Office, was present at the press conference held late Wednesday afternoon. Towne convened the special Lake County grand jury that returned the indictments against Rudd. To stress impartiality, the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office was not involved in the case, Undersheriff Rose pointed out. Instead, the sheriff’s office called the state to handle the case.

Some of the signatures were falsified. Others were supposed to be signatures from people whom we found were already dead.”Raymond Rose, Lake County Undersheriff

Lake County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Shanes has issued a $150,000 warrant for Rudd’s arrest. Through his attorney Jed Stone, Rudd, 70, of Lake Forest promised that he would turn himself in Thursday, according to Sgt. Christopher Covelli, spokesman for the sheriff’s office.

Rudd had been seeking reelection in 2016 as a Democrat but switched himself as independent candidate  after controversy swirled around his petition. The Lake County Electoral Board, however, ruled that he could not run as an independent after Michael Donnenwirth, a Democratic candidate for coroner, complained to the board, citing a 2012 state statute that forbids a candidate to run as an independent after the person has already declared himself a candidate from a political party. The electoral board sided with Donnenwirth who was fired by Rudd as a deputy coroner.

Eventually, Dr. Rudd ran as a write-in candidate after reportedly sending out 75,000 postcards about his renewed attempt. Needless to say, both Rudd and Donnenwirth lost to Dr. Howard Cooper who is the new Lake County coroner.

In his argument with the electoral board, Dr. Rudd who was first elected to the office in 2012 stressed that he had voluntarily withdrawn his candidacy as a Democrat and that the statute does not cover his case in which he withdrew on his own volition and then ran as an independent.

In his role as coroner, Dr. Rudd was involved in several controversies. Over the death of Fox Lake Police Lt. Joseph Gliniewicz’s death, he was criticized as unprofessional when he disclosed to the news media that the death had all the marks of a suicide when the case was still under investigation. Eventually, the death was ruled as a suicide.

Rudd was named the Illinois Law Enforcement Executive of the Year for 2016 by the Illinois Association of Law Enforcement Executives. It cited him for being “an independent thinker and exhibited an admirable willingness to seek the truth, regardless how unpopular his actions might be.”

In a phone interview with the YOU journal after he received his honor, he was asked of his age. He replied with a laugh, “I’m older than dirt, but I’m still above it.” 

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