Thursday, December 12, 2013

Federal lawsuit filed against IL Attorney General Lisa Madigan, State's Attormey Anita Alvarez, Sheriff Tom Dart, and others by Annabel Melongo, who spent 20 months in Cook County Jail on dubious "eavesdropping" charges

Annabel Melongo of Chicago, who since 2006 has been fighting a string of dubious criminal charges, is kicking back in federal court with a wide-ranging civil rights lawsuit.

As Sidebar readers know, Melongo's troubles began in October 2006 when she was arrested for allegedly destroying the computer files of the nonprofit Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF), whose employment she'd left months before.

Two weeks after her arrest, SALF was the subject of the first of dozens of broadcast and print exposes. And since 2010 SALF has reportedly been under investigation by the IL Attorney General for the "possible $9 million misappropriation" of federal and state funds.

Melongo filed her federal case in July, but I only got wind of it today via, a website that chronicles her legal travails, including, per reporter Mark Guarino in the Christian Science Monitor, a 20-month jail stretch "for recording phone conversations with a county clerk."

Except for two sentences in a Sun-Times column by Carol Marin and an interview I did last year with a Rockford print weekly, Melongo's plight has been completely ignored by Illinois media.

Meanwhile, the NBC affiliate in Terre Haute, Indiana, thought her case was worth a two-night investigative report and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has also been on the story.

Annabel K. Melongo screenshot from NBC2 Terre Haute I-Team report

It's a complicated case that's been going on for over seven years, but the federal complaint includes a very readable blow-by-blow description. Click here to download a copy.

Here's the bare bones:

Per the case docket (accessed December 12), here's her attorney (a partner at Jones Day's Chicago office):

This item has been updated.