An Oak Lawn woman was indicted Wednesday on charges of forging the signatures of hundreds of Oak Lawn residents on petitions to get a referendum placed on the village's ballot.
The Office of Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez announced Wednesday that Myrna Jurcev, 69, of Oak Lawn has been charged with a felony offense of "mutilation of election materials and the misdemeanor offense of disregard of election code."
In December 2010 through January 2011, Jurcev led a signature-collecting effort by the Oak Lawn Tax Watch Group to place a referendum on the ballot that would have asked voters to change the structure of Oak Lawn's municipal government.
The referendum would have allowed residents to vote on whether the village should have a "strong mayor" system of government, in which the mayor has more power over city operations, or continue to have a professional city manager run day-to-day affairs of the city.
Jurcev submitted 132 petition sheets to the Circuit Court of Cook County with the signatures of 1,200 registered voters, Alvarez said. An objection was filed claiming the petitions contained forged signatures, and numerous voters signed affidavits claiming their signatures were forged, according to an issued press release.
The Cook County State's Attorney's Office looked into the claims and found that dozens of Oak Lawn residents whose names appeared on the petition never gave their signature.
They also discovered that 85 of the 132 petitions notarized by Jurcev were allegedly circulated by her 97-year-old mother in December 2010 during cold and snowy weather, said the release.
City Clerk Jane Quinlan sent a letter to the Oak Lawn village government Jan. 7 and said that this "may be one of the worst cases of petition fraud in Illinois history," according to the Chicago Tribune.
The petitions were withdrawn and the referendum did not appear on the ballot. Jurcev pleaded not guilty to charges Wednesday morning and was released, according to the Office of the State's Attorney.
The case will be continued Nov. 29, and if convicted Jurcev could face up to three years in prison.