An investigation into alleged misconduct by the former sheriff of Livingston County has closed with the special prosecutor declining to seek any charges against Martin Meredith.
Explaining the decision, special prosecutor Charles M. Colburn wrote, “A primary goal in any prosecution for the offense of official misconduct is to ensure that the office-holder is not able to repeat the abuse of his office in the future.
In this situation, Sheriff Meredith, if in fact he had abused his position of sheriff in his use of the GPS device, is now out of office and no longer has access to the power of the office of sheriff.”
The Illinois Appellate Prosecutor’s Office was appointed to look into the matter Jan. 26, 2012, the investigation of which became public that March.
According to court documents, which were unsealed Monday after Colburn’s official findings were filed, the investigation concerned allegations that then Livingston County Sheriff Meredith was “responsible for the placement of a GPS tracking device in the vehicle of an acquaintance for a non-law enforcement purpose. Such allegations, if provable, may have subjected Meredith to prosecution for criminal trespass to vehicle, a misdemeanor. If such actions were taken by Meredith in his position of sheriff, then charges of official misconduct, a felony, were possible.”
Colburn went on to state the Illinois State Police conducted an investigation. “Individuals with knowledge of the matter were interviewed. Several in-person meetings with the owner of the vehicle in question were conducted. No final determination had been made as to whether any prosecutable criminal action had occurred,” when Meredith announced on Sept. 5 he would resign Oct. 1. The date of the resignation was then advanced by the sheriff and took effect on Sept. 13.
“Since the date of Meredith's resignation, members of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecution Unit have had further discussions regarding the direction of this investigation. The owner of the vehicle has been consulted, and the owner's wishes have been taken into consideration.
“It is the position of the Special Prosecutor that no substantial law enforcement results can be achieved by continuing this investigation and that the conservation of scarce law enforcement and judicial resources dictate that this case be closed.
“Consistent with our general practice in investigations in which charges are not filed, our agency will not be preserving the investigatory file.”
Meredith had insisted throughout the investigation that there had been “no wrongdoing” on his part.
Former Livingston County State’s Attorney Thomas Brown had initially filed a motion for appointment of a special prosecutor on Jan. 26, 2012, stating “the completion of investigation, and such prosecution as may result therefrom, by the Livingston County State’s Attorney’s Office, presents either a conflict of interest, or alternatively, an appearance of impropriety. To avoid either circumstance it is in the interest of justice that a special prosecutor be appointed.”
The pending case was ordered, “impounded and sealed” at the time. That order was removed with Colburn’s final case report.
Colburn was appointed to the case on March 28, 2012.