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Towne pleaded the Fifth

The prosecution and defense traded more shots this week in the criminal case against former La Salle County State's Attorney Brian Towne.

Towne is charged with committing official misconduct and misapplying public funds while in office. Karen Donnelly defeated him in the November 2016 election, then brought the charges Sept. 5 through a grand jury.

Towne's defense team is trying to have Donnelly and her office replaced as prosecutor against Towne, saying she is biased against him. Towne filed more arguments to this effect Monday, through one of his attorneys, Patrick Herrmann.

Herrmann contended Donnelly made a number of procedural missteps that undercut the case against Towne, including that Donnelly improperly told grand jurors Towne declined to testify by invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

"This action (on Donnelly's part) is so egregious that it undermines the fairness and the integrity of the entire Grand Jury proceedings," Herrmann maintained.

Responding on Donnelly's behalf Tuesday, Assistant State's Attorney George Mueller called Herrmann's argument "frankly disingenuous."

Mueller explained Towne's then-attorney asked in August for Towne to be excused from appearing before the grand jury, in exchange for a signed statement from Towne, saying Towne would invoke the Fifth.

Donnelly agreed to forgo Towne's appearance, instead reading Towne's statement into the grand jury record. Far from "disclosing" anything, Donnelly extended a "courtesy to Defendant, further proving that no good deed goes unpunished," Mueller argued.

Herrmann also said Donnelly erred by giving to a reporter a police investigative report into Towne. The reporter then forwarded a copy to Towne, which Herrmann said "caused" a procedural violation, because a defendant should not receive potential evidence outside proper channels.

A court hearing is Thursday, Nov. 9. Local media have asked permission to cover the hearing with cameras.

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