Judge orders contempt arrest of two suspected of aiding Madigan's alleged 2016 sham candidates effort

By Jonathan Bilyk | Mar 25, 2019

Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan   Youtube screenshot

A Chicago federal judge has ordered the arrest of two men who are suspected of helping the political organization of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, after the men have allegedly repeatedly ignored requests from the court to testify under oath in a lawsuit accusing Madigan and his organization of dirty election tricks.

On March 25, U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly issued a so-called “Body Attachment” order for men identified as Joseph Nasella and Michael Kuba.

In the orders, the judge said both Nasella and Kuba had “failed to comply” with subpoenas requiring each man to sit for depositions in the civil lawsuit against Madigan.

The judge had issued orders in February finding the men in contempt of court, and ordering them to appear in court for questioning.

However, neither man had appeared on two separate occasions.

In the body attachment orders, the judge ordered the U.S. Marshal’s office to search for and arrest both Nasella and Kuba. According to the order, the marshal’s office was “authorized to use necessary and reasonable force” when arresting each man, including forcibly “entering and searching the premises in which (they) may be found.”

The order says the two men would remain in custody until each man “has caused himself fully to comply” with the subpoena.

In reports published in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, representatives of Madigan say the two men are not associated with the Madigan campaign organizations, though Nasella may have been recently “dismissed.”

The arrest orders come as the latest move in a court fight dating back to 2016, when plaintiff Jason Gonzales, through his attorney Anthony Peraica, filed suit against the Speaker and several of his allies for allegedly illegally undercutting Gonzales’ primary election challenge to Madigan.

In that complaint, Gonzales has alleged Madigan and his associates violated his constitutional rights and violated state laws on defamation, criminal history disclosure and discriminated against him as a Hispanic.

Specifically, Gonzales alleged Madigan and his campaign organizations planted sham Hispanic candidates on the ballot to prevent Hispanic voters from aligning behind Gonzales, and had used Madigan’s influence within state government to improperly obtain information about pardoned criminal offenses in Gonzales’ past, feeding the information to a friendly journalist, who published it.

In the years since, the two sides have duked it out in court over just how much information Gonzales’ legal team should be able to see.

Most recently, Peraica won the right to question under oath Speaker Madigan – who said it marked the first time he had ever given a deposition - and several people associated with him, including Shaw Decremer, a former Madigan staffer who was fired in February 2018 for “inappropriate behavior” toward a female candidate in 2016.

In his deposition, Decremer testified he had taken nominating petitions to Springfield for two candidates, identified as Joe Barboza and Grasiela Rodriguez, to place their names on the ballot for the 2016 Democratic primary election in the state House district Madigan has represented since the 1970s.

When asked why he did it, Decremer said someone “asked” him to do so. When asked who asked him to do it, Decremer said he couldn’t remember.

Decremer testified he handed the petitions off to someone else to file them. He said he also couldn’t remember to whom he gave them.

The Illinois Board of Elections no longer has that information.

According to court records, Gonzales’ team has alleged Nasella and Kuba were among those who circulated petitions for Barboza and Rodriguez, making them targets for questioning. Gonzales’ lawyers have asserted both men were instructed by Madigan’s organization or his allies to collect signatures on the petitions for the alleged sham candidates.

Madigan has denied any wrongdoing in the matter.

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Organizations in this Story

13th Ward Democratic Organization Anthony J Peraica and Associates Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

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