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Judge Refuses Motion to Dismiss Murder Charges in Workplace Death

January 29, 1985

CHICAGO (AP) _ A judge on Monday refused to dismiss indictments against four former officials of a company who face murder charges in the 1983 cyanide poisoning death of an immigrant factory worker.

The case marks the first time corporate officials have been charged with murder in an industry-related death in the workplace, said Jay Magnuson, the assistant state’s attorney prosecuting the case.

Stefan Golab, a Polish immigrant, died Feb. 10, 1983 at Film Recovery Systems, Inc., of acute cyanide poisoning, authorities said. He was 55.

In addition to murder, the indictments charge the defendants with reckless conduct, saying they contributed to Golab’s death by removing the labels from barrels of cyanide and failed to provide proper safety equipment and sufficient warnings to workers.

The now-defunct firm in suburban Elk Grove Village recovered silver from X- ray film by dipping the film into a chemical solution containing cyanide.

Cook County Circuit Judge Ronald J.P. Banks ruled that the charges in the October 1983 indictments were sufficient to warrant a trial, which he scheduled for March 11.

Attorney Elliott Samuels, who represented the four former company officials in the joint motion for dismissal, argued the indictment failed to establish a causal relationship between the Golab’s death and the defendants’ actions.

The four defendants, formerly officials of the firm, are Steven O’Neill, president; Gerald Pett, vice president and general manager; Charles Kirschbaum, plant manager; and Daniel Rodriguez, assistant plant manager.

A fifth defendant, Michael MacKay, who served as a vice president and was half-owner of Film Recovery Systems at the time of Golab’s death, has remained in Salt Lake City since the indictments were returned.

Former Utah Gov. Scott Matheson twice rejected extradition requests from Cook County authorities, saying sensational news coverage made it unlikely MacKay would receive a fair trial in Illinois.

Illinois officials intend to submit a new extradition request to Matheson’s successor, Norman Bangerter, but have not yet done so, said David Devane, a spokesman for the state’s attorney’s office.

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