Inaccuracies in Rockford-Register Star Article

Posted: February 19, 2009 by parchangelo in the Responsiblility of the Media, Uncategorized

One year later, still no charges in Rockford attorney’s death

Posted Feb 18, 2009 @ 05:41 PM
Last update Feb 18, 2009 @ 05:43 PM


More than a year has passed since Rockford attorney Gregory H. Clark was gunned down outside his home, and despite a flurry of police activity in the days after the shooting and the naming of two persons of interest in the crime, no one has been charged with Clark’s murder.

“That case still is pending under investigation and review with the (Winnebago County) State’s Attorney’s office,” said Rockford Police Deputy Chief Greg Lindmark.

Lindmark said he couldn’t speak about any developments in the case.

One of the persons of interest, Richard Wanke Jr., a former client of Clark’s who was facing sentencing for a burglary conviction, eventually was sentenced to 14 years in prison in August.

Wanke, 47, is an inmate at Western Illinois Correctional Center in Mount Sterling. He has denied having any involvement in death of his 60-year-old court-appointed attorney.

The other person linked to the homicide investigation is Wanke’s landlord and former girlfriend, Diane Chavez, 50, of Rockford.

Chavez faces a felony charge of obstructing justice for lying to police the day of Clark’s death. Police say Chavez told them that Wanke did not live at the Grant Avenue duplex that she shared with Wanke and refused to let officers search the home.

Chavez also faces an unrelated felony charge of tampering with official public records. Upon their return to Chavez’s home with a search warrant, police say they found documents in the home that belonged to and were missing from the Rockford branch of the Illinois Department of Human Services, where Chavez worked as a caseworker.

Both charges are scheduled for arguments in court next month, said Deputy State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross.

“There are several pretrial motions that have been filed,” Hite Ross said. “A motion to change venue, a motion to dismiss the indictment, a motion to quash arrest, the search warrant and evidence. … We plan on arguing against all of them. We filed written objections last week.”

No trial date has been set, Hite Ross said. If convicted, Chavez faces up to three years in prison on each charge.

Chavez’s Park Ridge attorney Timothy Biasiello said it would be better for everyone involved if his client’s cases were heard by a judge in another county.

“I believe there’s a cloud over the proceedings due to the unfortunate murder of that attorney,” Biasiello said. “It spills over into the atmosphere, and it’s unfair. It affects the approach to Diane’s cases. I think everyone would be better off if it was heard somewhere else.”

Winnebago County Court records indicate that Wanke was at odds with Clark and wanted his burglary conviction reversed based on ineffective assistance of counsel, among other complaints.

According to statements in court hearings for Chavez and Wanke, police have provided prosecutors with eyewitness accounts placing Chavez and Wanke and the vehicle they shared at the scene of the shooting.

State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato said his office continues to work with police on the investigation.

“We are working directly with the police department as they move forward in their investigation,” Bruscato said. “We are actively working together on the case.”

Staff writer Corina Curry can be reached at or 815-987-1389.


The Register-Star needs to report news more accurately and carefully. Anyone reading the above will believe that it is a fact, and not just an allegation, that Diane lied to the police and told them that Richard Wanke did not live anywhere on her property. They would also believe that witnesses placed her at the murder scene on the day of the murder because that is what the article implies.

In reality, the Register-Star should qualify their report as “the police allege” that she lied to them. It should also clarify that Diane told them that Richard lived elsewhere on her property as her tenant, but not with her. They have previously reported her statement correctly, so no reason to confuse it now. Last, it would help if the paper would clarify that witnesses reported claim to have seen her in the murder vicinity the day before the shooting occurred and not on the day of the murder! A little more editorial oversight is due here if the Register-Star is really interested in just reporting the news and not pre-judging an individual.


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