CHICAGO—Today a Cook County special prosecutor investigating the 2004 death of Mt. Prospect resident David Koschman announced that a criminal charge has been filed by a special grand jury against the man accused of throwing the fatal punch: Richard J. "RJ" Vanecko, a nephew of now-former Mayor Richard M. Daley and a grandson of late Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley.
By filing an amicus brief earlier this year, the Better Government Association supported the appointment of a special prosecutor to examine whether charges should be filed against Vanecko – and whether police and prosecutors conspired to get Vanecko off the hook years earlier.
The law enforcement portion of the special prosecutor’s investigation appears to be ongoing, and further criminal charges could be forthcoming.
While the BGA is not casting judgment on Vanecko, the Chicago-based nonprofit strongly believes that politics and familial relationships should have no bearing on criminal investigations, and the BGA hopes the special prosecutor can definitively determine whether Vanecko was afforded special treatment.
"This is a powerful first step in getting to the bottom of what happened that early morning in 2004, when David Koschman was punched by RJ Vanecko and later died," said BGA President and CEO Andy Shaw. "We’ll leave it to a judge and jury to determine Vanecko’s guilt or innocence."
"This has never been about Vanecko or the Daleys – it's always been about justice for the Koschman family and accountability for those sworn to uphold the law," Shaw added. "Everyone is entitled to a justice system that is fair, unbiased and apolitical, and this case raised too many questions about whether those basic principles were being followed. If they weren't, law enforcement officials have to be held accountable. That's our goal and that of special prosecutor Dan Webb."
"But we do have one last question for Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who resisted the appointment of a special prosecutor in this instance: if he found a criminal charge is warranted, why didn’t you?"
The BGA will continue following this case, and we want to single out the Chicago Sun-Times for specific praise in pushing Koschman’s tragic death back into the public’s eye. Without the diligent reporting of the newspaper’s staff, this case likely would have drifted away.
The Better Government Association is a Chicago-based non-profit, non-partisan watchdog group that works for integrity, transparency and accountability in government by exposing corruption and inefficiency; identifying and advocating effective public policy; and engaging and mobilizing the electorate to achieve authentic and responsible reform.
Andy Shaw (312) 520-4999
Robert Herguth (312) 821-9030