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Report: No evidence of Daley influence in probe

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT
(AP file photo)
Richard Vanecko, (right) a nephew of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, arrives at court Dec. 10, 2012, in Chicago for his arraignment on involuntary manslaughter charges. On Tuesday, special prosecutor Dan Webb released a report concluding there is no evidence the former mayor or other family members sought to influence an investigation into the 2004 death of a man punched by Vanecko. Vanecko pleaded guilty Friday to involuntary manslaughter, leading a judge to unseal the report.

CHICAGO – A special prosecutor released a report Tuesday that concluded there is no evidence then-Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley or members of his family sought to impede an investigation into the 2004 death of a man punched by Daley’s nephew. Lawyers for the victim’s family, however, say the report shows that clout played a role.

The 162-page document on the death of David Koschman suggests that authorities badly handled the investigation at key stages, including by continually asserting that Daley’s nephew had acted in self-defense when that was contradicted by much of the witness testimony. Key records were also lost or destroyed.

However, “there was no evidence that former Mayor Daley, his family, or others at their direction engaged in conduct to influence or attempted to influence” the investigations, according to a statement released with the report by the special prosecutor, former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb.

Still, the report details the alarm of some police investigators as it dawned on them that Daley’s nephew, Richard J. Vanecko, was a figure in the early morning, street-side attack after he’d been out drinking in Chicago. It cites one officer as saying, “Holy crap, maybe the mayor’s nephew is involved.”

Fueled by stories in the Chicago Sun-Times, questions were raised about whether clout caused Cook County prosecutors and Chicago police to mishandle the original investigation. Koschman’s family claimed there was a cover-up.

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