State Government Illustration

State Government Illustration (Nancy Stone / Chicago Tribune)

A candidate for state representative issued a press release about a 23-year-old misdemeanor arrest, saying he believes his opponent threatened to make it public.

Keith Matune, who is seeking the Republican nomination for a seat in the Illinois House, said his opponent, incumbent state Rep. Ron Sandack, told him during a Sunday meeting that a political organization was going to reveal "unflattering, personal information," according to the press release. Matune called it a "veiled threat," in the release and later decried his rival's tactics.

"I just think this whole act is despicable on Mr. Sandack's part," Matune said Monday. "I got into this race to talk about the issues affecting middle-class families in the area and here we are talking about something that happened two decades ago."

Sandack said he shared the information as a courtesy to Matune.

"We live in the same community, and we wanted to give him a heads-up what we knew," Sandack said. "Some people think that arrests are relevant when it comes to their public officials. There was no threat. There were no ill words spoken. It was polite and cordial at all times."

In the press release, Matune said he unintentionally wrote a check for $150 that bounced in 1991, a misdemeanor according to a Virginia statute. He was in college at the time and left the area during a break, he said.

"It was a dumb mistake," he said.

DuPage County Circuit Court records show that Matune, who is now a board member for Community High School District 99 in Downers Grove, was arrested during a May 1991 traffic stop in Downers Grove when police discovered he was wanted on the fraud charge in Montgomery County, Va. DuPage records show bail was set at $20,000 and local charges eventually were dropped.

It is not clear how the Virginia case was resolved, because Montgomery County records are not available, Virginia officials said. Capt. Brian Wright of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office said their records do not go back to 1991 and no information is available. An official with the court clerk's office also said she could not find any records pertaining to the incident. In the press release, Matune said he made "full restitution" and the Virginia charges were dropped.

Matune said he "is truly sorry for the missteps made as a college student," according to the press release.

Matune and Sandack are vying for the 81st House District seat to represent parts of Bolingbrook, Downers Grove, Naperville, Lisle, Darien, Westmont and Woodridge.

cdrhodes@tribune.com

Twitter @rhodes_dawn