Updated 08/02/11 – 2:48 p.m.

WOODSTOCK, Ill. (STMW) — A judge rendered a directed verdict this afternoon and declared McHenry County State’s Attorney Louis Bianchi not guilty on counts of professional misconduct.

In his verdict, Winnebago County Judge Joseph McGraw said that while he might not agree with every decision made by the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office, none of those decisions rose to a criminal level.

This is the second trial this year alleging misconduct by Bianchi while serving as state’s attorney. The first trial ended in March with a directed verdict of not guilty by McGraw.

The new charges alleged that Bianchi in 2010 ordered an assistant state’s attorney to persuade a victim in a pending disorderly conduct case to accept an apology from a defendant in return for dropping the case. The defendant and his relatives were campaign contributors and he was associated with the defendant’s family through a pro-life organization, Special Prosecutor Thomas McQueen alleged during the trial, which went into its second day today.

Also charged in the new indictments were investigators Ronald Salgado and Michael McCleary. Salgado and Bianchi ordered an assistant state’s attorney to lower the prison term in a drug case involving Salgado’s nephew, the indictment alleges.

The charges against Salgado and McCleary were dropped prior to the trial, as were charges that Bianchi in 2010 also ordered an assistant to delay a pending case against his nephew until a diversion program for first offenders was operating in the county.

In his argument against the directed verdict, McQueen focused on whether Bianchi should have recused himself in any dealings with the disorderly conduct case. “He clearly should have known … he had plenty of ties to solve this and recuse himself,” McQueen said.

Bianchi’s attorney Terry Ekl said that the indictment itself is faulty and does not specifically address the issue of whether Bianchi should have recused himself. “There is no allegation in the indictment,” of that aspect of the case, Ekl said. “He is injecting a law into this case that is not in his indictment.”

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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