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Special prosecutor: No Daley family involvement in Koschman case

Tuesday, Feb 4, 2014

* Tribune

Former Mayor Richard Daley, his family and members of his administration did not try to influence the investigation into the 2004 death of David Koschman, a special prosecutor concluded in a report released today.

The special prosecutor, Dan Webb, interviewed Daley, eight of his relatives and numerous others as part of a grand jury investigation into whether a Daley nephew, Richard “R.J.” Vanecko, received preferential treatment from Chicago police or Cook County prosecutors handling Koschman’s death. Read the report here.

Vanecko, 39, pleaded guilty Friday to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, followed by 60 days of home confinement and then 2 ½ years of probation. The guilty plea stemmed from his April 2004 confrontation with David Koschman in the Rush Street night light district, a verbal altercation that turned violent when the much larger Vanecko punched Koschman in the face, leaving him with injuries he died from 12 days later.

At issue in the report was how authorities handled the investigation into the incident, both at the time and when the case was reopened in 2011 after an investigation by the Chicago Sun-Times raised questions about whether police had intentionally concealed evidence because of Vanecko’s clout.

* Sun-Times

Former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, one of his top aides and others in Daley’s Chicago Police Department knew “shortly after the incident” that the mayor’s nephew was involved in the drunken confrontation that led to David Koschman’s death — even though police reports say detectives didn’t learn of the nephew’s involvement until 18 days later.

“According to Matthew Crowl [former mayoral deputy chief of staff for public safety], he was informed by someone at CPD of Mayor Daley’s nephew’s involvement in the incident on Division Street and immediately informed Mayor Daley in person of what he had heard,” according to a 162-page special prosecutor’s report released Tuesday about how police and prosecutors handled the case of Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko, Daley’s nephew.

“While Crowl was uncertain of the exact date, he believed he became aware of the Koschman matter shortly after the incident,” the report continues. “It was not clear whether Mayor Daley was already aware of the incident when Crowl made the disclosure to him.”

In his interview with investigators for special prosecutor Dan K. Webb, Daley himself “did not recall Crowl advising him of the incident,” the report says.

Daley “stated that he learned about the Koschman incident ‘sometime’ after it occurred, although he was unable to say exactly when. Mayor Daley also stated that he had made it clear to his staff and the public that because he was Vanceko’s uncle, he had recused himself from any involvement in the Koschman matter.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        


14 Comments
  1. - Justsayin - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 9:33 am:

    Me thinks we need a special prosecutor for the special prosecutor.


  2. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 9:44 am:

    Daley was “immediately” informed of the situation.

    The King of Clout, in “his” city, then proceeded to do absolutely nothing of use to assist his family?

    Perhaps it is the truth. Perhaps one benefit of clout is that it need not always be a spoken instrument.

    Or perhaps I am just growing jaded and cynical in my old age.


  3. - Bobo - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 9:58 am:

    Buffers, my friends…the word is buffers


  4. - MrJM - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 10:10 am:

    If your crew needs explicit orders on what to do in a situation like this, you need a new crew.

    – MrJM


  5. - Jake From Elwood - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 10:58 am:

    Ditto what MrJM said. Be sure to place all kinds of Knights and Rooks and Pawns around the King.


  6. - plutocrat03 - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 11:09 am:

    What MrJM said……. on the money!


  7. - A guy... - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 11:11 am:

    I’m sure the crew knew exactly what to do JM. What was important to get loudly on the record was that the “leader” of the crew had reiterated it to every member of the crew. You never know when something’s going to come back at you a decade later. I believe everyone in this case, Mrs. Koschman, the Daley’s, the cops, the prosecutors, and now that he’s spoken R.J. This was a terrible, awful and unfortunate accident caused by too much booze and too much testosterone. Lots of fault and blame to go around, even to the unfortunate victim in this case. He didn’t deserve to die, and my heart bleeds for his mom. She also knows what precipitated this whole terribly sad episode. It shouldn’t have happened. It did. There’s plenty of fault. Nobody has any responsibility for this beyond the two guys who got in the tussle and the crowd around them. Beyond that, the cops could’ve done better with better testimony. Same with the prosecutors. Mrs. Koschman and the Sun Times helped bring some closure to this. I wish her as much peace as she can derive from this.


  8. - walker - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 11:48 am:

    Daley didn’t have to do anything.

    His clout was in the air.


  9. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 12:25 pm:

    A Guy, what in the world are you rambling about, about “fault.”

    The question has always been why this incident wasn’t thoroughly investigated and prosecuted from the get-go.


  10. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    This is the whole reason a clout city sucks. Nobody needs orders to do the wrong thing because they take the initiative themselves.

    From the Trib:

    “The earlier draft made no mention of self-defense, while the later draft concluded that Vanecko had acted in self-defense,” the report stated. The prosecutor also obtained emails in which Deputy Chief Dean Andrews and Sgt. Sam Cirone discussed “corrections” to the self-defense claim, according to the report.

    “Under these circumstances, the public could well conclude that the entire claim of self-defense came not from Vanecko, but, rather, was conjured up in the minds of law enforcement,” said the conclusion of the report. “A discerning citizen could well surmise that it simply is an argument made of whole cloth. Whether Vanecko may, in fact, have a valid claim of self-defense should properly be for him to raise, not the police.”

    Simply unbelievable. There’s a reason lots of people don’t trust the police in Chicago from torture to this. Hopefully some serious reform and internal punishment can come from this since criminal punishment is apparently out of the question.


  11. - Martin - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 12:45 pm:

    I read the report - and it does not reflect well on either the Chicago Police Department or the Cook County States Attorney. A lot of incompetence and sloppiness. Immediately after the incident, before Vanecko’s involvement was known, the case is given (different interpretations of what that means) to two detectives who are leaving on vacation the next day. So it sits until Koschman dies. I thought cops just ignored crime when it involved minorities. Maybe they do not care about fights between overgrown frat boys on Rush Street either. I also wondered if the first two detectives, Rita O’Leary and Robert Clemens were going on that vacation together. Were they a couple?

    When Detective Yawger takes over and finds out that Vanecko is involved, he wants to have him charged - not for justice but to get the case away from CPD and into the judicial system. Quote from his grand jury testimony in 2012 -
    “I just wanted — it’s not a good thing to say, but I just wanted to kick the can down the road. I mean, why would we [CPD] make this decision? I wanted out of this case. I wanted to get it over with. I figured just charge the guy and go to preliminary hearing, and it would have been thrown out . . . And then we’re done with it, it’s on somebody else’s hands, which is not the right thing to do.”

    Back in 2004, it was known that Bridget and Kevin McCarthy had been lying to the cops. Why were they not charged with obstruction of justice back then?

    When the investigation is reopened in 2011, the new detectives invent a self-defense argument for Vanecko - one he did not claim for himself.

    And then there is the matter of disappearing and reappearing files at both CPD and SAO.

    And David Koschman was no angel in all of this. Based on his actions, Vanecko could have had a self defense claim.

    All in all - what a mess.


  12. - Mokenavince - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 1:44 pm:

    Mrs. Koschman said all she wanted was an apology,
    Vanecko did that.

    It’s time to let it rest, nothing will ever bring back David Koschman . It should have been solved a long time ago.


  13. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 3:24 pm:

    I imagine this is the time to not let this case rest. I hope the point of this multi million dollar investigation wasn’t to get a 60 day plea bargain from Vanecko. I hope the point was to determine whetehr their was a cover up. Otherwise this was a huge waste of taxpayers money.


  14. - James the Intolerant - Tuesday, Feb 4, 14 @ 3:33 pm:

    THe family has a lot of buffers.


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