Associated Press – Chicago Sun-Times – October 4, 2000
METRO By Martha Irvine

The private investigator who helped free former Death Row inmate Anthony Porter made an impassioned plea to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board on Tuesday, asking board members to recommend a pardon for a man convicted of pulling the trigger in a contract murder.

Ronald Kliner was sent to Death Row after he was convicted in the 1988 killing of Dana Rinaldi, a woman from Palatine Township who was shot in the head five times.

Private investigator Paul Ciolino told the board there was little doubt Kliner could be a troublemaker.

“Is Kliner an angel? Of course he isn’t. Is he a contract murderer? No,” said Ciolino, who gained attention last year when he obtained a videotaped confession from another suspect that led to Porter’s release.

In Kliner’s case, Ciolino told the board there was no confession or physical evidence that linked his client to the crime. He said phone records and witnesses prove Kliner was in his north Chicago office 30 minutes before the killing. Ciolino claims the drive to the crime scene takes at least 43 minutes.

He also said there was no proof that Kliner received, deposited or spent an alleged $50,000 payment from Joseph Rinaldi, who was convicted of arranging his wife’s killing for insurance money.

Rinaldi struck a deal with prosecutors for a 40-year sentence in exchange for testifying against Kliner and accomplice Michael Permanian. Eventually, a judge sentenced Rinaldi to 60 years.

Ciolino claims Rinaldi set up the two men to save himself from execution.

But James Andreou, an assistant Cook County state’s attorney, said the claims are nothing new.

He noted the U.S. Supreme Court voted 7-0 to uphold the conviction. And he said a post-conviction hearing, likely early next year, would determine whether the case should be reopened.

Andreou also said he has proof Kliner tried to hire gang members to kill witnesses who planned to testify against him.

“This is not the action of a guy who knows he’s innocent,” Andreou said.

The review board is expected to give its confidential recommendation to Gov. George Ryan.

Ryan-who declared a death penalty moratorium in January-is expected to make a final decision about Kliner in the months to come.