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• CHICAGO SUN-TIMES • MONDAY, MAY 7, 2012

NEWS

THE KILLING OF DAVID KOSCHMAN | A WATCHDOGS INVESTIGATION

witness in the David Koschman case was visited last month by a private investigator he says claimed to be working for Koschman’s mother. The man actually was working on behalf of Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko, the nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley who’s under renewed investigation in Koschman’s 2004 death. The visit took place April 21 — a Saturday afternoon. Two days later, Cook County Circuit Judge Michael P. Toomin appointed former U.S. Attorney Dan K. Webb as a special prosecutor to re-investigate the death and also determine whether anyone from the Chicago Police Department or Cook County state’s attorney’s office “acted intentionally to suppress and conceal evidence” to keep Daley’s nephew from facing charges. The witness — who asked that his name not be published — says he was interviewed by Webb’s staff

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KOSCHMAN WITNESS: I FELT INTIMIDATED
Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko
about the visit. The private investigator — retired Chicago Police Officer Thomas M. O’Connor — is working for Terence P. Gillespie, a criminal defense attorney representing Vanecko. Gillespie and O’Connor acknowledge that O’Connor visited the witness but deny he said he was working for Koschman’s mother. “Absolutely not,” says O’Connor. He referred further questions to Gillespie, who says: “He didn’t intend to, nor did, he misrepresent himself.” O’Connor showed up at the witness’ home and told him he was helping Nanci Koschman prepare a civil lawsuit regarding her son’s death, the witness says. The witness says he talked with O’Connor about the drunken confrontation on April 25, 2004, that ended when Vanecko punched Koschman in the face and ran away. Koschman died 11 days later. Two days later talking with O’Connor — on the day that Toomin appointed Webb, in response to a request from Nanci Koschman to bring in a special prosecutor — the witness called the Chicago Sun-Times and asked whether Koschman’s mother had hired a private investigator. The witness says he then called O’Connor, who told him he was working for Vanecko’s lawyer. The witness says he felt intimidated by O’Connor and contacted Webb, whose staff interviewed him the following day. O’Connor retired from the police department in 2008. Gillespie says O’Connor works as a private investigator for IFPC Worldwide, a security company owned by James Fruin, a retired Chicago Police commander. Vanecko is a friend of Fruin’s son, Michael Fruin, who also works for the security firm. Both attended Loyola Academy high school in Wilmette. Michael Fruin graduated in 1991 with Kevin McCarthy, who was part of the group with Vanecko on the night of the confrontation with Koschman on Division Street near Dearborn. Vanecko graduated in 1992 with Phillip Kohler, one of two “independent witnesses,” in the words of prosecutors, to what happened between Vanecko and Koschman. Kohler has said he didn’t recognize Vanecko that night but, after news reports identified Vanecko, recalled that they’d had “a couple classes” together. Fruin’s company previously has been linked by federal authorities to Vito Scavo, the former Melrose Park police chief now doing six years in prison after being convicted of muscling Melrose Park businesses into hiring DOD Security Consultants, a private security company Scavo ran on the side. Neither Fruin nor his company was ever charged. According to Scavo’s 2007 indictment, DOD was an unlicensed company that worked as a subcontractor to Fruin’s business, which had become involved in billings between DOD and the Melrose Park businesses.

BY TIM NOVAK & CHRIS FUSCO

Vanecko lawyer’s ties reach throughout case
Terence P. Gillespie, a lawyer for Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko, is known for his connections. In the case of Vanecko, who’s now under renewed investigation in the 2004 death of David Koschman, those ties extend to all corners of the probe: ◆ The Cook County state’s attorney’s office, where Gillespie was a prosecutor under then-State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley — Vanecko’s uncle. Toomin about their ties beGillespie’s wife, Pamela fore Toomin appointed him Hughes Gillespie, who’s a to re-examine the case. Cook County judge, also Webb and Gillespie worked in the state’s atworked together last year torney’s office under Daley, defending William F. Celwho was mayor at the time lini, who was convicted of of Koschman’s death. federal corruption charges ◆ Special prosecutor Terence P. for trying to influence the Dan K. Webb, a former U.S. Gillespie investment of state pension attorney in Chicago whom funds. Gillespie has known for years. Six years ago, Webb defended Webb has said he told Cook former Gov. George H. Ryan, County Circuit Judge Michael P. who was convicted of corruption charges with his close friend, Lawrence Warner, a lobbyist who was represented by Gillespie and Marc Martin, now also representing Vanecko. ◆ The office of Cook County Circuit Judge Michael P. Toomin, who appointed Webb as special prosecutor. Toomin’s top assistant, William Ryan Sullivan, worked as an attorney between 2006 and 2008 for Gillespie’s Chicago law firm, Genson & Gillespie, where he worked on criminal cases with Gillespie and Martin. Gillespie and Martin were representing Vanecko while Sullivan was still with Gillespie’s firm, though Gillespie says, “Bill Sullivan has never worked on Vanecko’s case — never.” Sullivan says: “I had never heard of [Vanecko] until I read” stories about the case.

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