The Illinois Attorney General’s Office says a key witness in the Jeff Terronez case told police the State’s Attorney called her on the phone in the early stages of the investigation and asked her to lie.
Terronez, the former Rock Island County State’s Attorney resigned last week, pleading guilty to one count of supplying alcohol to a minor.
In an interview with News 8, a key witness said Terronez delivered six packs of alcohol ”at least five times” to her and her friend and took them on an overnight road trip and to bars in Champaign.
She says when Illinois State Police started asking questions back in August, Terronez called her on her phone.
”He called me and said I don’t need to tell the truth and I don’t have to say anything I don’t want to say” she told News 8. ”I lied at first because I didn’t want to get him in trouble”.
A spokesperson for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan today says police and special prosecutors were aware of that.
”This is not new. The friend mentioned to Illinois State Police that Terronez asked her to lie, but then quickly met with ISP and provided them with detailed, accurate information. As we have said, we charged the crime for which we had proof beyond a reasonable doubt”.
The witness says she was told she was going to go to jail if she didn’t tell the truth.
”They said I would go to jail if they found out I was lying, and I’m not going down for him”, she said.
Veteran Quad City attorney and retired public defender Dave Hoffman says an obstruction of justice may have been possible against the States Attorney, but he understands why a charge was not filed.
”Somebody’s made a judgement after a long period of investigation. I’m simply saying that telling a witness to lie is obstruction. But how serious it was in dealing with the investigation, probably not much”, Hoffman said.
Hoffman represented convicted teen killer Sarah Kolb, and squared off many times against Terronez in court.. He doesn’t know what to think of Terronez’s troubles and actions while in public office as the county’s top prosecutor.
”I don’t know if I should be this critical, it shows incredible arrogance, shows a certain hypocrisy, it’s just stupid,” he said.
He said Terronez in the end, apparently lived by two sets of rules.
”What is this? Do as I say and not what I do? He was pretty tough on alcohol and other offenses involving juveniles”.
Hoffman says the big deal is yet to come. One of the underage girls is the key witness and victim in the trial of teacher Jason VanHoutte.
Terronez met the girl while prosecuting VanHoutte and sent him to prison for ten years. VanHoutte’s attorney now says he is pursuing evidence to pinpoint when the relationship between victim and prosecutor began to try and set his client free.
”If he (Terronez) influenced the sentence because of what went on with them, if what she testified to has anything to do with what he wants her to say, his influence on their relationship, if that was a fact, not only should that guy be resentenced, his license ought to be re-voked.