Two former Cook County prosecutors pleaded not guilty Friday to charges accusing them of misconduct in the prosecution of a man who said he was tortured by detectives working under notorious former CPD Cmdr. Jon Burge after being accused of killing of two cops in 1982.
The former assistant state’s attorneys were arraigned in a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building before Judge Daniel Shanes, a Lake County judge who was appointed after a Cook County judge ruled that judges here should be recused from the case.
A grand jury returned indictments against Nick Trutenko and Andrew Horvat in December following an investigation by a special prosecutor tasked with looking into potential wrongdoing by Cook County prosecutors in the case of Jackie Wilson.
Trutenko is charged with perjury, official misconduct, obstruction of justice and violating a records act, while Horvat is facing charges of official misconduct, according to the indictment.
The case, which has taken many twists and turns over its more than 40-year lifespan, began with the fatal shootings of Chicago police Officers William Fahey and Richard O’Brien in 1982. Detectives arrested Jackie Wilson, along with his brother Andrew, and prosecutors sought to convict Jackie Wilson three times, until his third trial blew up amid allegations that Trutentko committed perjury. Wilson was later issued a certificate of innocence.
In the third trial in 2020, special prosecutors trying Wilson dropped the charges after allegations surfaced that Trutenko, who originally prosecuted Wilson and was called as a defense witness in the 2020 trial, lied under oath about the whereabouts of a witness against Wilson, with whom Trutenko had a longtime friendship.
Trutenko at the time was represented by then-Cook County prosecutor Horvat. The indictment alleged that Horvat asked a special prosecutor not to ask Trutenko about that relationship and failed to disclose that Trutenko “had concealed information” about it.
During the 30-minute hearing, attorneys representing Trutenko and Horvat appeared to be gearing up for a quick resolution to the case, telling the judge they did not have plans for any extensive pretrial motions and asking that the state turn over evidence within 21 days. The attorneys said they sought a bench trial, possibly within four to five months.
“The sooner the better, because we are looking forward to a trial,” said Trutenko’s attorney Jim McKay, speaking about receiving evidence from prosecutors.
Shanes ordered that the special prosecution team, led by former federal prosecutor Lawrence Oliver, turn over discovery in the 21-day time frame, noting that the indictment was returned late last year.
The parties agreed to set the next court date in July in Lake County, despite Cook County Judge Erica Reddick making note of the interest to the public in having the case heard locally when she ruled that Cook County judges should be recused.
“I do think just cause is shown for a judge outside of Cook County to hear the matter,” she said in March. “But I am again agreeing, this is not a change of venue.”
She added that there is an “importance in this matter remaining in this county.”'
In a statement, McKay denied that Trutenko lied under oath, and accused the special prosecutor of attempting to scapegoat him due to a “casual friendship” and profit off the prosecution.
“The last time I checked, friendship is not a crime in Illinois,” McKay said in the statement.
Defense attorneys Terry Ekl and Tracy Stanker, who represent Horvat, said it was a difficult day for Horvat and his family.
“We want the case to go to trial as rapidly as possible because it is deeply flawed, both legally and factually,” Ekl said outside of court.
Following the arraignment, both defendants were expected to report to sheriff’s officials to be officially booked and released.
Chicago Tribune’s Stacy St. Clair and Christy Gutowski contributed.