City official quits amid Koschman probe
Published July 20, 2011
By FRAN SPIELMAN
City Hall Reporter
Former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s director of special events resigned her City Hall job while facing the prospect of being fired for refusing to cooperate in the city inspector general’s investigation into the Chicago Police Department’s handling of a homicide case involving Daley’s nephew Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko, according to a report Tuesday.
That explosive allegation about former Special Events Director Megan McDonald is included in Inspector General Joe Ferguson’s latest quarterly report.
The names of employees and contractors aren’t included in the report, but sources identified McDonald as the former “high-level manager” in the city Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events who “refused to answer questions” as part of an “IGO investigation relating to an inquiry into a serious crime.”
That was even though McDonald was repeatedly reminded that city employees are compelled to cooperate with investigators from the inspector general’s office, according to the report.
McDonald resigned May 12. That was two weeks after being questioned by Ferguson’s investigators about the police department’s handling of the case involving the death of 21-year-old DavidKoschman of Mount Prospect after Vanecko punched him in the face during an argument on Division Street in the early-morning hours of April 25, 2004. It was also “days ahead” of the inspector general’s summary report to the newly merged department where she worked. Ferguson left little doubt that he believes McDonald jumped to avoid being pushed.
“If the . . . manager had not resigned, IGO would have recommended that he/she be terminated,” wrote Ferguson, who recommended that McDonald be placed on the city’s “ineligible for hire” list.
McDonald hung up Tuesday when called for comment on the inspector general’s report.
According to a statement to police from a witness, McDonald was near the scene when Koschman was hit and knocked to the street, the Chicago Sun-Times reported in May.
Koschman died of brain injuries 11 days after the confrontation.
Two people who were with Vanecko that night – Kevin McCarthy and his wife, Bridget Higgins McCarthy – initially lied to the police, telling them they didn’t know Vanecko or Craig Denham, who ran away with him after the confrontation. Instead, Kevin McCarthy told police that he and his wife were walking down Division Street to meet McDonald at Butch McGuire’s tavern when Koschman was hit.
The inspector general’s investigation of the Koschman case was prompted by reports in the Chicago Sun-Times that raised questions about the initial police investigation.
Koschman’s friends and a bystander have disputed police reports from the original 2004 investigation, in which detectives said they told them the 5-foot-5, 140-pound Koschman was being physically aggressive toward a group that included Vanecko when he was punched.
At first, the police said they couldn’t determine who threw the punch. But after taking a new look at the case this year, they determined that the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Vanecko threw the punch but acted in self-defense, and they formally closed the homicide investigation.
Vanecko has declined to talk to the police, who say witnesses couldn’t pick him out of a lineup held 25 days after Koschman was punched.
In interviews, Koschman’s friends have denied they told the police Koschman was being physically aggressive.
Like the McCarthys, McDonald is a friend of Daley’s children, nieces and nephews.
The police never talked with her, according to detectives’ reports.
McDonald graduated from St. Ignatius High School a few years behind Daley’s daughter, Nora Daley Conroy. McDonald graduated from Fairfield University in Connecticut, the alma mater of Conroy and her husband, Sean Conroy.