Despite protests from Gordon Vanderark’s attorney, DuPage County prosecutors can continue to handle the former Wheaton man’s murder-for-hire case, a judge ruled Monday.
Vanderark, 54, is currently serving a 16-year prison sentence after being convicted in 2010 of aggravated drunken driving. He has multiple previous DUI convictions. In November, Vanderark was charged with solicitation of murder for hire after an investigation determined he planned with another inmate to kill the judge and assistant state’s attorney from the DUI case, as well as his ex-wife and another man.
Vanderark’s attorney, Neil Levine, asked Judge George Bakalis to disqualify the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office from prosecuting Vanderark’s case because one of its lawyers – Audrey Anderson – is alleged to be an intended victim.
Vanderark paid a fellow inmate $2,000, with the promise of a total of $70,000, to carry out the killings of Anderson and Judge Blanche Fawell and the other two. Assistant State’s Attorney suggested Vanderark targeted Anderson and Fawell because of the “hefty sentence” he received on his latest DUI conviction.
Levin felt Anderson’s coworkers might subliminally operate differently because of their connection.
“I’m saying this looks bad,” Levine said, referring to the appearance of a conflict of interest. “They are personally involved.”
Kapas countered that Anderson isn’t the lone intended victim and was never directly contacted or threatened by Vanderark.
“Sure, she’s a coworker. We respect her,” Kapas told Bakalis. “ … (but) she will not affect our decision making.”
Bakalis agreed with Kapas that no previous cases cited by Levine which involved prosecutors being disqualified fit the Vanderark scenario. Bakalis denied the motion, saying Anderson’s potential testimony would be limited because court transcripts would spell out most of Anderson’s role in the hearing.
Vanderark has been held in the Centralia Correctional Center since being sentenced by Fawell in December 2010. He was scheduled for parole in 2020. He returns to court Feb. 21.