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Nephew of Chicago's Daley pleads guilty to causing 2004 death

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A nephew of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter on Friday for causing the 2004 death of a suburban Chicago man during a drunken fight, according to the prosecutor.

The case sparked controversy in the nation's third-largest city because of a long-running Chicago Sun-Times investigation into why Richard J. Vanecko was not charged when he threw a punch that took the life of David Koschman, 21.

Vanecko must spend 60 days in jail, plus 30 months on probation. He also must apologize and pay restitution of $20,000 to Koschman's mother, according to the office of former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb of Winston & Strawn, who acted as special prosecutor in the case.

Both the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County State's Attorney's office declined to charge Vanecko while his uncle was mayor. He is also the grandson of former Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley.

A Cook County judge appointed Webb as a special prosecutor to lead a new investigation, and Vanecko was indicted in 2012. He had been set to go to trial next month.

The incident took place in the popular Rush Street night life area in April 2004. Koschman, described in court documents as 5 feet 5 inches tall and 140 pounds, was out drinking with friends when he ran into a group that included Vanecko, according to court documents.

There was an argument and the 6-foot-3-inch tall, 230-pound Vanecko punched Koschman, who fell backwards and banged his head on the pavement and died about two weeks later, according to court documents.

The Daleys, Chicago's most prominent political family, also include William Daley, former White House chief of staff to President Barack Obama and son of Richard J. Daley. The elder Daley served as mayor from 1955 to 1976, and his son Richard M. Daley was mayor from 1989 to 2011.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by David Bailey and Tom Brown)

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