The indictment of McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi on corruption allegations was greeted Friday by a mix of support for the embattled prosecutor to quiet celebration among his critics and concern about his office's ability to effectively operate with its leader burdened by criminal charges.
McHenry County Board Chairman Ken Koehler, a Bianchi supporter, said he wants to see more on the specific allegations, but for now considers the state's attorney "innocent until proven guilty."
"I highly respect Lou Bianchi and think he's been doing a very good job for our county as state's attorney," he said.
Koehler, who could have a large hand in appointing a successor if Bianchi resigns or is removed from office, said he believes the state's attorney should remain in office while the charges are pending, saying the claims, while serious, should not drive him out.
State Rep. Mike Tryon, chairman of the McHenry County Republican Party, said he has a lot of respect for Bianchi and
it is difficult to see him go through the process of an indictment.
"I've always known Lou to be a person of a lot of integrity," he said. "An indictment is an indictment, not a conviction, but certainly it's something he'll have to put a lot of time into defending."
While the indictment saddened Bianchi supporters, one of his most vocal critics and political rivals said it was long overdue.
Dan Regna, who unsuccessfully challenged Bianchi in a hard-fought 2008 Republican primary, said he was aware of political activity in the state's attorney's more than three years ago.
"Unfortunately, I was not able to get the information to the voters," Regna said. "I'm stunned at the sheer magnitude of it. We knew a lot, but it was just the tip of the iceberg.
"There's no doubt in my mind that if voters were aware of the of the corruption in the McHenry County State's Attorney's office, he would never have been re-elected," he said.
Regna, who plans to seek office again in 2012, said "the honorable thing" for Bianchi to do now is resign.
"I don't expect that from Lou Bianchi," he added.
Thomas Cynor, who ran against Bianchi as a Democrat in 2008, echoed the call for Bianchi to step down, and added that he worries for the state's attorney staff and their ability to work under the circumstances.
"My concern is how they can perform in light of their boss being indicted," Cynor said. "They're already walking on eggshells there. He should (resign) for his own health, for the county's health and for the office's health, but he's not going to do it."
Amy Dalby, the former Bianchi secretary who went public last year with allegations she did political work on county time, declined to comment Friday on the advice of her attorney.