Koschman judge names Dan Webb special prosecutor

April 23, 2012 3:21:32 PM PDT
Cook County Circuit Judge Michael Toomin has appointed former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb as special prosecutor to re-examine the 2004 death of David Koschman, 21.

Koschman fell and hit his head after allegedly being punched by Richard J. Vanecko, a nephew of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley, outside a bar.

Webb, who was sworn in Monday morning, will have the same powers as the State's Attorney Office.

Judge Toomin said it will be up to Webb to "investigate whether criminal charges should be brought against any person in connection with the homicide of David Koschman ... and whether from 2004 to present, employees of Chicago Police Department and the Cook County State's Attorney Office acted intentionally to suppress and conceal evidence, and generally impede the investigation into Mr. Koschman's death."

"We pledge our cooperation to Mr. Webb," said Locke Bowman, Koschman family attorney. "This is a tender time of year for Nancy Koschman. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the assault on her son."

In April of 2004, Koschman was out partying on Rush Street with friends. It's alleged that at some point he got into an altercation with Vanecko and Vanecko punched Koschman in the face, knocking him to the ground. Koschman died from his injuries 11 days later. Vanecko was never charged.

"I am going to start on the case today," Webb said after his appointment. "I will select some staffing for my law firm to be my staff. And we will start preparing a process to gather all records to get completely up to speed on the facts, and then the investigation will take us where the facts take us."

Webb is a highly experienced lawyer. He gained national attention as special prosecutor during the Iran-Contra investigation in the 1980s. But he also spearheaded the Operation Greylord investigations into judicial corruption in Cook County and served as lead counsel during former governor George Ryan's trial.

"I have no biases here whatsoever," Webb told reporters. "I intend to fairly investigate it, as I've done throughout my career."

Webb would not say how long he thinks it will take to complete his investigation, though some believe it will take at least a year.

"Dan Webb is more independent than other people in town," said Prof. Richard Kling, Chicago Kent College of Law. "He was never connected with the State's Attorney's office directly. He was a federal prosecutor and knows how to investigate cases. A very perceptive choice."

The Koschman family's attorney's says all they are looking for is a full investigation into the case and they will accept Webb's conclusion, whatever that is.

It's not often that a special prosecutor is named in Cook County. The last time it happened was for the Jon Burge investigation in 2002.