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Judge: Public defender stays in Cole case

Thursday, April 30, 2009
Daily Herald
by Rob Olmstead

A Cook County judge refused today to use money posted by the county's former chief financial officer to pay for a private attorney for an ex-county employee, now jailed.

Judge James Patrick Murphy had been asked by the public defender's office to use $4,000 posted by ex-CFO Donna Dunnings to bail her aide Tony Cole out of jail.

Cole, 29, had been jailed on accusations of violating an order of protection in a domestic battery case. He remains jailed now for violating conditions of his bond.

Dunnings was asked to resign from her county office shortly after media contacted the county about her posting bond for Cole, who has an extensive arrest record. But Judge Murphy noted that the money could not be used without a hearing, which would involve Dunnings.

"There has to be a hearing ... and at that hearing, the interest of third parties has to be considered," Murphy said. "If he qualifies for the public defender's office, that's the end of it."

County administrators claimed Cole was fired from his $61,000-a-year job for not disclosing criminal convictions in Georgia, but later admitted they had FBI reports showing his true arrest record months before they fired him. He was fired April 9, the day before a newspaper story revealing his criminal history and employment with the county was set to run.



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