By Jim Hagerty
The Annabel Melongo saga continues in the Illinois Supreme Court Tuesday, Jan. 14, marking the eighth year the case has been tied up in litigation.
Melongo is the former Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF) employee who was arrested for computer tampering in 2006. She was arrested based on by allegations by former SALF founder, Carol Spizzirri.
Spizzirri alleged that Melongo unlawfully obtained hundreds of computer files–namely those surrounding the now-defunct foundation’s alleged ties to political power plays and deceptive funding schemes.
Melongo was also indicted for eavesdropping, as a grand jury accused her of illegally recording conversations with a Cook County court reporter.
The indictment accused Melongo of:
(1) Eavesdropping without consent:
“…in that she knowingly and intentionally used an eavesdropping device, to wit: an audio recording device, for the purpose of recording a conversation, to wit: recording a conversation conducted by telephone between Annabel K. Melongo and Pamela Taylor of the Cook County Court Reporter’s Office, and without the consent of all parties to such conversation and without authorization provided by Article 108A or Article 108B of the ‘Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963,’ approved August 13, 1963, as amended.”
(2) Computer tampering:
“…in that she knowingly and without the authorization of the computer’s owner, accessed or caused to be accessed a computer program or date, and deleted a computer program or data, with the intent to commit an offense established under the Illinois computer crime law (720 ILCS 5/16D), to wit: that on or about April 28, 2006 Annabel Melongo accessed Safe A Life Foundation, Inc.’s (NFP) computer data server located in Schiller Park, Illinois and permanently deleted, removed and altered hundreds of computer files critical to Save A Life Foundation Inc.’s (NFP) operations. These acts were done without the authorization, knowledge or consent of the computer’s owner.”
After four years of freedom on a personal recognizance bond, Melongo was jailed in April 2010. She was held for 18 months until being placed on house arrest.
Melongo maintains she was framed. Her attorneys argue that the recorded conversations were permitted, as the exchanges was made during the court reporter’s duties as a public employee. Melongo’s criminal case resulted in a mistrial in 2011.
June 19, 2012, Circuit Court Judge Steven J. Goebel dismissed the eavesdropping case, ruling that the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute (72 IL CS 5/14-2) is unconstitutional. The state filed an appeal Aug. 9.
At the Jan. 14 hearing, Attorney Gabriel Plotkin plans to argue:
Whether the Recording Provision of the Eavesdropping Statute (Subsection 14-2(a)(1)) is unconstitutional under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 4 of the Illinois Constitution?
Whether the Publishing Provision of the Eavesdropping Statute (Subsection 14-2(a)(3)) is unconstitutional under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 4 of the Illinois Constitution?
Whether the Recording Provision of the Eavesdropping Statute (Subsection 14-2(a)(1)) is unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the United States and Illinois Constitutions?
Whether the Publishing Provision of the Eavesdropping Statute (Subsection 14-2(a)(3)) is unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the United States and Illinois Constitutions?
The hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m., on the 18th floor of the Michael A. Bilandic Building, 160 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago. Melongo is not required to be in court.
Posted Jan. 3, 2014