A political consultant turned convicted felon will spend less time paying his debt to society than he did fighting the charges against him.
Rodney McCulloch was sentenced Friday to 24 months' probation, court costs and 150 hours of community service. McCulloch was found guilty of a felony perjury charge and misdemeanor disregard of the election code in March. The sentence also brings a case that began nearly three years ago to a close.
DuPage Circuit Judge Michael Burke handed down the sentence after McCulloch apologized in open court to Jim Gumm, the man most directly affected by McCulloch's actions.
Gumm hired McCulloch in 2005 to circulate nominating petitions on his behalf so he could appear on election ballots as an independent candidate for Milton Township assessor.
Multiple signatures on the petitions McCulloch circulated later were deemed apparent forgeries. Gumm dropped out of the race at that point, believing it would be wrong to submit bogus petitions.
McCulloch blamed the discrepancies on three homeless men he hired to help pass the petitions. McCulloch let the homeless men take the petitions home at night, where he believes they concocted more signatures to increase the amount they'd be paid.
None of the homeless men could be located to appear at McCulloch's trial.
McCulloch told Burke the "substandard" results of his work caused him "a lot of turmoil inside" since he was indicted in November 2005.
The DuPage County state's attorney's office had hoped McCulloch would spend at least 60 more days in the DuPage County jail for his crimes.
But Burke said McCulloch's offenses are not violent in nature and so jail time isn't necessary.
McCulloch said he plans to appeal his conviction.
Outside the courtroom, Gumm said he was "disappointed" in the sentence, but reserved further comment until the completion of the civil case he has pending against McCulloch.
McCulloch took the occasion to lash out against DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett. McCulloch echoed statements he made throughout the trial that the whole saga was political retribution for McCulloch's work with various Birkett opponents in previous elections.
Birkett has repeatedly denied any such motivations.
"If Joe Birkett held the same set of standards to every petition that is filed these courts would be clogged with these cases," McCulloch said. "I believe there was severe prosecutorial misconduct in this trial."
McCulloch will appeal the case to a higher court.