Man Sues State’s Attorney Karen Donnelly and Ottawa Police Department Officers Who Tried to Frame Him

Kenneth Cusick Maliciously Prosecuted For Supposedly Causing His Wife’s Death

OTTAWA, IL – Kenneth Cusick, whose investigation and prosecution for the supposed murder of his then-wife dragged out for over a decade, today filed a federal lawsuit against LaSalle County State’s Attorney Karen Donnelly, Ottawa Police Captain Dave Gualandri, Former LaSalle County Coroner Jody Bernard,  and others who attempted to frame him for causing the death of his wife back in 2006.

One of Mr. Cusick’s attorneys, Tara Thompson of the civil rights law firm Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law, is available to field media inquiries about the lawsuit.

Mr. Cusick’s lawsuit alleges that after his wife Tracy Cusick tragically passed away in 2006, Gualandri, Bernard and others refused to accept what the initial investigation revealed — that her passing was a tragic accident for which Ken was not responsible.  The defendants were determined to charge Ken at any cost.  Eventually, when Karen Donnelly became interested in higher political office, she saw this investigation as an opportunity to help her advance her political goals, publicizing false information throughout her campaign that Ken’s wife had been murdered and that he should be charged.

According to the lawsuit, the named defendants conspired to frame Ken, “resorting to fabricating evidence, presenting false information to the Coroner’s Inquest and grand jury to obtain an indictment, withholding and concealing exculpatory evidence, and other unlawful acts.”

Despite the defendants’ best efforts, Ken was acquitted by a LaSalle County jury in 2019 after Ryan Hamer of Kulek & Hamer in Ottawa successfully defended him at trial.

 “My wife Tracy was a great mom and wife,” said Cusick. “She was not perfect but she deserves to be remembered as the loving person she was and not as part of this case.”

 “I filed this lawsuit because the LaSalle County community should know what their elected officials and public servants are doing with their time in office.  I truly hope that what Karen Donnelly and the other defendants did to me and my family never happens to anyone else.  I am grateful to the jury that acquitted me but I hope that this lawsuit will give me and this community answers about why these defendants put me through this.”

 “There was never any credible evidence to believe that Tracy Cusick’s death was anything other than a terrible accident,” said Thompson. 

“The public officials in charge of this investigation and the people they conspired with, rather than following the truth, chose to prosecute Ken Cusick at any cost.  They ruined his life for professional and political gain. The people in charge of this investigation have claimed they were seeking justice for Tracy Cusick when really they were following their own agenda.  They pursued it no matter the harm to Ken and his family.  While no lawsuit can give back Ken Cusick everything he lost, we hope that the judicial system will help Ken finally be able to move on with his life.”

In addition to Thompson, Mr. Cusick is represented by Jon Loevy, also of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law. Loevy & Loevy is one of the nation’s largest civil rights law firms and has won more multi-million-dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the country.

Copies of the federal suit, #1:20-cv-06017, can be found here.

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