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Judge Won’t Toss Charges Against Kane County Coroner

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(Credit: CBS)

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GENEVA, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) – A judge has refused to throw out misconduct charges against Kane County Coroner Chuck West.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Dave Berner reports, the Kane County Judge Jordan T. Gallagher on Wednesday turned down a defense motion to throw out misconduct charges against West.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Dave Berner reports

A Kane County grand jury indicted West, 68, of Elgin, in May 2010 on five felony counts of official misconduct, alleging he allowed employees under his control to remove a TV from the home of a deceased man.

West is accused of intentionally failing to perform his duties by incorrectly disposing of the 24-inch Magnavox TV VCR/DVD that was taken from a Carpentersville home in 2007 after the resident’s body had been removed.

West has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He has previously said the TV had been “stored” at the home of two deputy coroners and had been returned to the dead man’s family as soon as they came forward to claim it. The deputy coroners have not been charged.

Defense attorney Gary Johnson says prosecutors misled the grand jury that indicted West. At the hearing Wednesday, Johnson argued that special prosecutor Charles Colburn had not properly defined what “valuable” meant as outlined in the indictment. Colburn denied that.

In turning down the defense motion, Gallagher said he found no error with Colburn’s definition, and therefore would not drop the charges against West.

Colburn said that even if Gallagher had granted the motion, only four of the misconduct charges would have been dropped. He said the fifth misconduct count — alleging theft — would not have been affected by the ruling.

“We feel the judge made the right decision,” Colburn said afterward. “We’re ready to move forward.”

The case will continue at a May 12 hearing, where Johnson said he will argue on the vagueness of the statute defining the coroner’s duties of disposing of “valuable” property. Johnson said the definition of the word “valuable” is unclear.

“It doesn’t say what ‘valuable’ is,” he said.

The Elgin Courier-News contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire

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