OTTAWA — The two remaining La Salle County auditor cases won’t be settled until nearly Labor Day.
Wednesday, La Salle County’s indicted deputy auditors appeared for a final pre-trial hearing where their judge settled a few issues.
First, Tori Artman and Pamela Wright will be tried separately on Aug. 12 and Aug. 26, respectively. Both were scheduled for trial after Independence Day, but prosecutors have a full slate in July between a speedy-rights case and the Kenneth Cusick murder case set to begin mid-month.
Then, Judge Cynthia M. Raccuglia made a ruling that could complicate Artman’s defense. Prosecutors will be allowed to call to the stand the union agent who represents La Salle County workers to discuss statements given to her by Artman. Artman’s lawyer argued the statement was privileged but Raccuglia, without elaboration, decided the privilege was effectively waived.
Finally, prosecutors dropped the debate about calling Artman and Wright “deputy” auditors. At one point, state’s attorney Karen Donnelly and assistant George Mueller had insisted they simply were county employees. It was a sticking point that won’t be pursued any further.
The new trial dates dash any hopes of a swift conclusion to the case on the heels of Jody Wilkinson’s acquittal on June 14. As previously reported, Judge Michael C. Jansz decided there was no proof the disputed overtime was not actually worked and earned.
However, Raccuglia is in no way bound by the ruling. Moreover, at this point the Artman and Wright cases will be settled by juries and not by Raccuglia.
Artman and Wright could face 3-7 years if convicted of theft for taking overtime compensation, taken over a 10-month span, that prosecutors say was not earned.
Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_Court.