A Lake County jury deliberated about an hour Thursday night before finding former Island Lake Mayor Thomas Hyde not guilty of forgery and official misconduct.
Hyde, 61, was charged for changing the name of the owner of 3D Bowl/Sideouts on a liquor license on May 5, 2008, after a plan to sell the establishment stalled.
He declined to comment on the verdict while leaving the courtroom, but his attorney said Hyde wanted to thank the nine men and three women on the jury for their service.
Hyde, as the village liquor control commissioner, and the village board had approved transferring the license from Jerry DeLaurentis Jr. to his son Jerry DeLaurentis III in anticipation of the younger man's purchase of the establishment.
But when the sale stalled the name of the younger DeLaurentis on the document was covered over with correction fluid and his father's name was written over the fluid.
Prosecutors claimed the elder DeLaurentis could not be issued the license because he owed the village $4,000 and local ordinances prohibited anyone in debt to the village from holding a liquor license.
But defense attorney Charles Smith of Waukegan told the jury that Hyde had the law on his side and was the target of a political vendetta.
Three attorneys, including an expert on the state's liquor control laws, testified during the trial that Hyde had the right to issue a license to whomever he wanted to because he was the liquor commissioner.
Smith said Hyde did not commit a crime when he changed the form because he did not have the "intent to defraud" required under the forgery statute.
"No one testified that anyone was defrauded out of anything," Smith said. "The next guy who goes into a bar to read the names on a liquor license will be the first guy to do it."
DeLaurentis Jr. did not owe money to the village at the time of the license flap, Smith argued; he owed it to an engineering company that did contract work for the village.
He also accused former Village Clerk Christine Kaczmarek of manufacturing evidence against Hyde through her repeated contacts with a state's attorney's office investigator.
Smith said Kaczmarek sent 53 text messages, 134 e-mails and made 96 phone calls to former investigator Lou Archbold during the approximately 10 months Hyde was under investigation.
But Assistant State's Attorney Christen Bishop urged the jury to focus on what Hyde did and not Kaczmarek's actions.
"This is not about e-mails, text messages and phone calls," Bishop said. "This is about the defendant and how he chose to be above the law."
Hyde was charged last week in a separate criminal case where a ghost payrolling scam involving his wife, Sharon, is alleged. Thomas Hyde is charged in that case with official misconduct and having a prohibitive interest in contracts.
Wins: No fraud proven, defense said