A New Orleans criminal defense lawyer charged with shoving a high-ranking member of the Chicago Bears organization to the ground when the Saints played at Soldier Field late last year is slated to go to trial Tuesday in Illinois.
Richard V. “Rick” Kohnke, 58, could face a year in prison and a $2,500 fine if he is convicted, said Steve Campbell, a spokesman for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. He might also be subject to discipline from the Louisiana State Bar Association.
Prosecutors charged Kohnke with committing misdemeanor battery on George Halas McCaskey, chairman of the Bears’ board of directors and the son of team owner Virginia Halas McCaskey.
According to officials and media reports, after McCaskey arrived to watch the Bears lose to the Saints 31-15 on the Dec. 15 edition of “Monday Night Football,” he saw several New Orleans fans sitting in some of his seats.
McCaskey — whose grandfather, George Halas, founded the Bears and coached them to six NFL titles — spoke with one of the fans for a short time and then began walking toward the concourse to get stadium security.
As McCaskey was leaving, Kohnke pushed him in the back, Bears officials and police said. They said McCaskey fell to the floor and Kohnke was tackled by a Bears fan before security arrived to eject him from Soldier Field.
The Bears said McCaskey, now 59, did not need medical attention after the incident.
The State’s Attorney’s Office ultimately charged Kohnke with one of the most serious misdemeanors in Illinois, Campbell said. The case is slated to be heard in front of Cook County Circuit Court Judge Anthony Calabrese.
Reached by telephone Monday, Kohnke said he preferred not to talk about the case ahead of his trial. He said he had “a story to tell” and planned to testify in his own defense.
The attorney representing Kohnke in Chicago did not return a message seeking comment.
In New Orleans, Kohnke’s high-profile cases often have seen him represent a current or former Tulane University football player accused of breaking the law.
Kohnke and another New Orleans lawyer persuaded a New Orleans jury in 2013 to acquit former star Tulane linebacker Trent Mackey of charges of armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
Kohnke also is helping former Tulane running back Toney Converse fight a Civil District Court lawsuit accusing him of drugging, raping and impregnating a Pennsylvania seminary student last year.
Kohnke received his law degree from Tulane in 1982.