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Illinois County Sheriff Candidate Exposes Ranking GOP Fundraiser’s Armed Robbery Conviction

Alex Constantine - October 26, 2014

McHenry County sheriff’s candidate Jim Harrison launched a new attack in his campaign against Republican nominee Bill Prim, taking aim at a relatively high-ranking member of the county GOP. Documents Harrison released to Chicago-area media this week show the local Republican party’s fundraiser, Mickey Schuch of Woodstock, has a misdemeanor conviction from 2000 stemming from an armed robbery attempt in Crystal Lake.

Schuch is a Republican precinct committeeman, vice chairman of the McHenry County Republican Party Ways and Means and president of the McHenry County Right to Carry Association. In his role with the county Republicans, Schuch is responsible for fundraising and knowing what kind of financial resources the party needs. He is part of a new slate of Republican leadership elected earlier this year.

Republican Party Chairwoman Sandra Salgado did not return a phone message left for her Wednesday.

Schuch was 22 years old when, in November 2000, he and two others were arrested in a robbery attempt. According to police reports provided by Harrison, Schuch cut the phone line to a man’s home in Crystal Lake. The masked men knocked on the door, and when the homeowner didn’t let them in, they fled. Police reports indicate Schuch was armed with two knives, and another man had a homemade bludgeon. No one was injured.

Schuch called his arrest a “mistake” and a “stupid decision many years ago.”

“I’m not an attorney, but to the best of my knowledge, volunteering to help with not-for-profits and local political races is not a crime nor improper. In fact, I’m proud to have helped in our local democratic process,” Schuch said in an email to the Northwest Herald.

“I’ll not defend my actions 14 years ago, but I will point out that this inflammatory press release was crafted for the single purpose of trying to help a candidate who has no chance of winning gain some ground.”

Schuch initially was charged with armed robbery and home invasion, but the charges were later reduced to misdemeanors. Another man involved received a similar sentence, and a third was sent to the Illinois Department of Corrections for three years.

Schuch received 74 days of periodic imprisonment, or work release, and two years of probation on criminal damage and trespassing charges. He also was ordered to pay $4,510 as part of a plea deal that occurred under the previous state’s attorney administration.

Schuch is a certified concealed carry instructor in Illinois. Had he received a felony conviction, he would not be allowed to own or carry weapons.

In the latest attack in the leadup to the Nov. 4 election for county sheriff, Harrison – who’s running as an independent candidate – points out Schuch’s support for his opponent, Prim.

Last month, Harrison released a similar packet on the criminal background of Prim’s friend and former campaign manager Matt McNamara. Harrison released court records and witness statements from fights at two Iowa bars in which McNamara grabbed a man by the throat and punched two women.

“I don’t think there’s a question, [Prim is] surrounding himself with people with criminal backgrounds,” Harrison said. “There’s no disputing that.

“I’m appalled to find another criminal connection to his campaign,” he continued. “I think that he has no place even running for sheriff exercising that kind of judgment.”

Prim called out Harrison’s campaign rhetoric as “KGB tactics.”

“Every time you think Jim Harrison has sunk as low as he can, he sinks even lower,” Prim said in a written statement.

“Mr. Schuch is a volunteer and has helped my campaign. He doesn’t have a title within the campaign, and there are individuals who have contributed to Harrison’s campaign significantly in excess of what Mr. Schuch has contributed to mine. Most of them live outside the county, perhaps so they don’t have to encounter Harrison’s bottom-feeding style firsthand.”