COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — Presiding Judge Paul Biebel's signature on Kenneth Pinkney's criminal record expungement document is an obvious forgery, both prosecutors and Pinkney's defense attorney agree.
What they don't agree on is who fraudulently signed the name of the Cook County criminal courts' chief judge on the document, a forgery that led to charges against a 47-year-old Englewood man who thought his troubles with the criminal justice system were over.
Pinkney was acquitted at trial earlier this year on charges of animal abuse and unauthorized possession of a weapon. During that trial, Pinkney submitted proof that his previous criminal record — one conviction for possession of a controlled substance — had been expunged, said his attorney, Stuart Goldberg said.
In Cook County, first-time offenders can apply to have their records expunged, or erased, after convictions for certain crimes. All expungement papers, used by the offender to prove their record has been cleared, require the signature of the presiding judge.
Pinkney had the proof at trial, but prosecutors later determined his papers were forged and brought charges.
Both prosecutors and defense attorney Goldberg agree that the signature is not that of the presiding judge.
Somebody forged Judge Biebel's signature, but it wasn't Pinkney, Goldberg said.
"No one is that stupid," he said, claiming an employee at the clerk's office, where Pinkney had his previous conviction expunged, fraudulently signed Biebel's name.
An official from the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County said in an email Monday that her office was unaware of the case or any such allegation.
In court, Goldberg called the forgery case "malicious prosecution" that came in the wake of Pinkney's jury acquittal.
Pinkney, of the 6100 block of South Sangamon Street, stood trial on charges of animal abuse and unauthorized possession of a weapon. Pinkney's neighbor, a police officer, reported he was abusing or neglecting his dog, he said. When police searched his house, they found a gun.
Goldberg said the case was a sham.
"The police never even bothered to check my client's dog for abuse," he said during a bond hearing for the forgery charge. "They just arrested. We won at trial. This [new] case is malicious prosecution."
Prosecutors in court did not respond to that allegation or a later request for comment.
Pinkney remains in jail on $200,000 bail, and the case is pending.