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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Nadine -- September 28, 2012

This week I received a list of new comments posted by readers. One of them was by a person who identified herself as Kat. After reading the post "A Letter to Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez," she asks me what I would say in response to Nadine Lenarczak's testimony, and if she was lying. Excerpts from a 1995 Chicago Tribune article are cited quoting Nadine. I do not have access to the Internet but I doubt the article is very comprehensive. If Nadine's background and testimony were discussed at length, the question of whether she was lying would not even be asked. I appreciate readers' interest in my case and am glad they do not accept my claim of innocence without any skepticism. However, I tend to believe online newspaper archives do not provide an accurate or full presentation of my trial, conviction, or the events proceeding them. Nadine was not telling the truth and there is plenty I could say in response to her testimony.

Nadine was one of the prosecutor's most preposterous witnesses. Her background of crime, drug use, and psychological problems made her testimony highly suspect. The incentives or pressures on her to lie on behalf of the state were enormous. Just before my trial, she faced multiple criminal convictions and had become an informant to avoid prosecution in another case. When questioned about Dean Fawcett, she made various different statements which were contradicted by other witnesses. At my trial, her answers during cross examination came off as so ludicrous that a few times there was laughter in the courtroom. From interviews with jurors, I learned her entire testimony was disregarded and was the subject of humor and ridicule. Nadine's testimony is yet another example of how desperate prosecutors were and what extremes they would go to in order to bolster their case.

Nadine had drug and psychiatric problems which were extensively documented in discovery reports. An entire box was devoted to Nadine and a great portion were psychological reports. Discovery is information obtained by the police during the course of their investigation and prosecutors are required to turn it over to the defense. The trial judge, however, has discretion in deciding what is allowed into evidence. The judge limited my attorney to issues which addressed only Nadine's credibility as a witness, but this was more than enough for him to eviscerate her testimony.

Nadine attempted to play down her drug use and mental disorders. Apparently, she was not aware the defense had her medical files. She tried to convince the jury she was only a recreational user of cocaine and my attorney allowed her to present this image before confronting her with evidence which fully disputed these claims. For example, Nadine was asked how recreational drug use could cause her sinus cavity to disintegrate. I will never forget when Nadine claimed her blackouts were not serious. However, she was then forced to admit she had large memory lapses which completely wiped out her recollection. At times, she found herself in places she did not know how she got there including once finding herself sitting up in a tree.

Her life was in great turmoil. At and before the time of her arrest, she was in and out of hospitals. She was using drugs and living out of motels. She did not have a job and relied on various thefts, scams, and men to get by. Her brother had recently been shot and killed while driving his car. The family she had left did not want anything to do with her. From reports, her father moved to California and refused to take her with him until she got help. Her life was spiraling out of control. Even I who only spent time with her on one day and never seen or heard from her again could sense she was a very troubled woman.

I met Nadine Lenarczak at the Riverside Mall in late December 1992 along with Brian, Bob, and Dean. I knew nothing about her except what was related to me. For instance, Brian told me she was a low life prostitute. Bob told me she was a friend of his wife's and she was going to join us at the mall. He did not elaborate on the friendship of Rose and Nadine nor did he tell me they had been using Dean Fawcett's checks. I did not know whether to believe Brian or not, but I got the impression Nadine was a grifter, transient, or going through some very difficult times. She was not unattractive or wearing shabby clothes, but her hair had not been treated with care and was bleached blonde. Later in the evening, I learned she was living out of a motel with a pet racoon. Nadine had Dean order over $200 in Chinese food takeout which I also found odd. How was she going to eat all that food? Bob and Brian joked about how she was probably going to eat Chinese all week. However, I felt bad for the apparently destitute and distressed woman who had no one to care for her.

Police did not know the identity of Dean Fawcett nor were they certain he was murdered when his body was found in the woods of Barrington. However, in the pocket of the dead man was a phone number to a motel and a room number which had been rented by a Nadine Lenarczak. Nadine was no longer staying at the Best Western but management still had her information along with her car license plate number. These were traced to a car rental company where she had leased a car under a false name. On the day the car was due to be returned, police were waiting and placed her under arrest. Driving towards the police station, police told Nadine they sought to question her in a suspected murder. Upon hearing this, Nadine began to thrash about and smash her face directly into the metal mesh divider of the squad car. With blood pouring down her face, police turned the car around and brought her to the emergency room of a local hospital.

I am not certain why Nadine freaked out, but if she thought she would evade interrogation she was wrong. After being treated, she was brought to the police station and grilled. Despite this, Nadine had no idea who the person found dead near some railroad tracks in Barrington with her phone number could be. This, of course, did not please her inquisitors and they persisted in questioning her. Nadine at this point began to ramble about the people she suspected killed her brother and then those involved in an insurance racket. Several insurance companies had been defrauded of several hundred thousands and Nadine along with a number of others were involved. After she was arrested in connection to the case, she agreed to cooperate with police to avoid criminal prosecution. While all this may have been interesting to police, it did not help them come any closer to solving the mystery in Barrington.

Police records are not clear, but eventually after hours of interrogation, they were able to jog Nadine's memory. Slowly, police were to help Nadine piece together events which occurred months earlier. In statements to police, Nadine said her friend Rose contacted her around Christmas of 1992. Rose informed her that she and her husband were in possession of some checks and sought her help using them. Nadine met with the Faraci's and they purchased various things with the checks but were not as successful as they had hoped. Bob told Nadine they would simply have to go shopping with the owner of the checks.

The owner of the checks was Dean Fawcett and he had opened up a checking account with $100 on December 1st.  Several days before Christmas, Dean deposited two fraudulent checks from American Video totaling about $8,000. Apparently he hoped to deceive the bank into believing he was flush with cash. Immediately thereafter, he went on a shopping spree buying everything and anything. I have copies of all the returned checks and learned that Dean bought jewelry, a vacuum cleaner, gym shoes, stereo equipment, food, and the list goes on and on. I was not aware of the scam nor its extensiveness. I merely thought he was bouncing some checks off his checking account before he relocated to California. I can only speculate to the scope of Nadine's knowledge, but she along with the Faraci's sought to take advantage of it.

Nadine correctly told police and testified to meeting Dean Fawcett along with Bob, Brian, and I at the mall. However, her statement that Dean was pressured to buy the group merchandise is completely false. On the contrary, Dean was more than happy to buy his friends gifts, especially his new friend, Nadine, who was paying considerable attention to him. If anyone cajoled Dean to buy merchandise at the mall that day, it was her. She pretended to like Dean so he would shower her with goodies. While Dean bought me a blazer and a pair of sun glasses, Nadine had so many bags of merchandise she was unable to carry them all back to her car by herself. The fiasco was ludicrous to me and at one point I put Nadine on my lap and rolled my hands over her thighs. I wanted to show Dean that he was being played and also make him look stupid. However, I do not think he cared if Nadine was being genuine. If Brian also told Dean she was a prostitute, possibly he thought he could buy her affection and more.

Nadine's testimony, of course, conflicted with other testimony and evidence presented at my trial. For example, Brian Palasz said exactly as I have: no one coerced Dean. Also the check receipts of the items Dean bought for me said "gift for Paul" on the memo line, hardly something someone would write if I was threatening them. Nadine's statements of who, how and even if Dean was pressured also changed and evolved while speaking to police all the way to trial. This also occurred in regards to her other testimony. A white car became a blue car, and the model changed to a Pontiac Firebird. One person, three people, two, no one pushes Dean, he is pushed forcefully by Brian, and then at trial she said that I lightly pushed him. I speculate that Nadine did not have the foggiest notion and much of her recollection was based on what police told her or wanted her to say.

The main reason Nadine was called by prosecutors to testify was to establish a motive for the murder. According to Nadine, while we were at her motel room she spoke to Dean privately. Nadine purportedly told him he could get in trouble whereupon Dean said he would be moving to California before he'd get caught. But if he did get apprehended by authorities she said he was going to tell on everyone. Nadine repeated this to Bob and Rose and told them to make sure Dean left the state. This scenario is highly skeptical to me. First, this was not Fawcett's first time fraudulently using checks. In the past, he had stolen checks from various people and had been arrested repeatedly. Although he was lightly punished he knew very well he could get in trouble and did not need to be warned by Nadine. Secondly, this was Dean's scam. He set it up and wrote all the checks except for some that were forged by Bob and Rose Faraci. Brian, Nadine and I faced no criminal liability for accepting gifts from Dean. There is no question Bob killed Dean, but I do question if this was his motive or at least primary motive.

I have spoken repeatedly to my attorney about investigative work. One person I think it is important to speak to is Nadine. After 20 years have passed, she may be willing to tell the truth and retract her prior statements. My attorney said gaining an affidavit from her to present to the court along with my appeal is worthless. I am told the reviewing court already will discount her testimony as the jury formerly did, and even if the judge does not, it does not address the basis of my conviction. I was convicted of 1st degree murder on an accountability theory that I lent my car to Bob with the knowledge he intended to kill Dean. Despite this, however, accountability is a vague and ambiguous theory which could be interpreted or weighed differently by another fact finder. With my life on the line, I do not want to take any chances and want to obliterate every aspect of the prosecutor's case.

My attorney has convinced my parents there is no need to pay the expenses of a private investigator to find and speak to Nadine. I have no money myself or ability to locate her from behind prison bars. I have thought the best way to find Nadine is through Rose, but I cannot even get assistance contacting her. She has remarried and no one knows her current last name. I refuse to file a narrow appeal and want to throw everything I have at the court. Time and again, attorneys have kept evidence or issues back claiming less is more. Apparently, less is not more because I was convicted and am still in prison 18 years later. This appeal is going to be done my way and readers can help.

Nadine was 31 years old when I met her in 1992. She should be 51 now. She is about 5'3" and her natural hair color is brown but she may still be a blonde. She was very thin, but could have gained weight. She has lived in the Chicago metropolitan area and southern California. I have heard a rumor she has passed away but she filed a lawsuit against the San Diego Police Department about five years ago. If anyone can help locate her or better yet contact her on my behalf, I will be most grateful.

I receive many emails with words of support and sympathy. I also have received over one thousand signatures in support of my Petition for Executive Clemency. I thank everyone for their kind words, thoughtful comments, advice, and letters sent to the governor on my behalf. However, what I need even more is assistance proving my innocence whether it be for presentation to Governor Pat Quinn or the court. Despite the volunteers who work on my blog, I have little to no help and feel I am all alone when it comes to securing my freedom. Even my family has been blinded by attorneys' advice over the years. Any readers who can provide investigative assistance would be most appreciated.