(CBS) – Thomas Rudd, the former Lake County, Illinois coroner facing perjury charges, has an unlikely ally: the election lawyer who brought about his downfall.
The 2 Investigators have learned that a motion has been filed to dismiss perjury charges against Rudd, who may be the most famous former coroner in Illinois.
Last fall, when Democrat Rudd ran for re-election, Lake County Republicans retained election lawyer Burt Odelson to examine Rudd’s petitions for the party primary.
Odelson zeroed in on five petition pages signed by Rudd. The attorney says he suspected Rudd himself had not collected the signed pages, which would be illegal.
“He was a novice in running for election, and that’s all it was,” Odelson tells CBS 2’s Brad Edwards.
Rudd withdrew from the race when the petitions were challenged; he later lost as a write-in candidate.
“I did the honorable thing. I consulted an election attorney, and we decided to withdraw,” Rudd says.
After losing, Rudd was charged with five felonies over those petitions.
Odelson, the expert who scuttled Rudd’s plans, suggests the prosecution is overkill.
“I’ve seen people prosecuted for falsely signing their name intentionally and they knew they were doing wrong — but not an honest mistake,” Odelson says.
So, now the attorney hired to get rid of Rudd — and did — is joining Rudd’s defense.
Odelson says the felony charges should not have been filed. He speculates someone has “an ax to grind” against the ousted coroner.
Indeed, Rudd had enemies.
He was first to raise the specter of suicide in the death of Fox Lake Police Lt. Joseph Gliniewicz. Rudd also questioned the murder conviction of daycare worker Melissa Calusinski.
The office of Lake County State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim, a Republican, did not respond to requests for comment for this report. Nerheim’s office is not handling the actual case in court, to avoid any conflicts.
Odelson worries the case itself will scare off future office-seekers.
“It sends a terrible message,” he says.
As for Rudd, he faces five years for each perjury charge, if convicted. “I shouldn’t be spending any time in jail for a clerical error,” he says.
The judge will likely decide on the motion to dismiss within the next week.
The trial is slated to begin later this year.