AG's office admits possible conflict

Decision must be made by Friday; judge could hand case to another agency

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

GALESBURG - The Illinois Attorney General's office has until Friday to determine if it has a conflict investigating the Knox County State's Attorney's office.

The attorney general's office under Lisa Madigan has been charged with investigating Knox County State's Attorney John Pepmeyer for allegations of sexual harassment. It was also supposed to be investigating financial misconduct claims made by Pepmeyer against his predecessor, Judge Paul Mangieri, and Knox County Sheriff Jim Thompson, but representatives from the attorney general's office said Friday it had investigated only the claims against Pepmeyer. The AG's office said it didn't understand the court's order requiring it to investigate Pepmeyer's claims as well.

During a hearing March 22, Judge Ed Danner ordered the attorney general's office to investigate the sexual harassment claims by staff members in the state's attorney's office against Pepmeyer as well as counter-claims of financial misconduct Pepmeyer made against Mangieri and Thompson.

On Friday there was a telephone conference between the attorney general's office, Judge Danner, Pepmeyer and his newly appointed attorney, attorneys representing the women alleging the harassment and attorneys representing former assistant Knox County state's attorneys.

Representatives from the attorney general's office said investigating both claims simultaneously could create a conflict. For instance, the office may be interviewing the same person as a victim and a suspect.

Danner gave the attorney general's office until Friday to determine if there was a conflict, by which time the office must file court documents with its official decision. Pepmeyer will then have until June 1 to respond to the attorney general's office's decision. Danner will then decide if another agency needs to be brought in to handle part of the investigation.

Pepmeyer filed a motion April 23 that claimed the attorney general's office was not looking into his claims and should be removed from the case altogether because of political connections between Mangieri and Madigan's father, Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan.

Pepmeyer is now being represented by attorney Michael Warner, of Michael Warner and Associates of Rock Island, who entered his appearance in the case Friday.

A teleconference call between all involved parties has been scheduled for June 8.

The Journal-Star contributed to this story.

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