Outside probe of Oak Brook chief’s contract sought
Updated: June 11, 2012 10:07AM
Arriving in the mailbox of every Oak Brook resident this past week was a letter from Village President Gopal Lalmalani providing details about the actions of former Police Chief Tom Sheahan and former state Rep. Robert Molaro, which left the village with a $750,000 unfunded pension liability for Sheahan.
Sheahan used a piece of 2007 legislation, called Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Personnel, sponsored by Molaro which allowed Sheahan to transfer his previous pension credits to Oak Brook. The legislation affected only one person in the entire state: Sheahan.
Sheahan resigned as chief in 2011 after just over six years with the Oak Brook Police Department. The village made its first payment of $50,030 in January.
Prior to Tuesday’s Village Board meeting, resident Al Knuth praised Lalmalani for the letter, but said some key facts are still missing. Knuth called for an investigation into how Sheahan received his contract.
“The right thing is further investigation,” Knuth said. “(The letter) lacked a significant probe into the problems.”
Trustees agreed with Knuth.
Trustee Elaine Zannis offered her suggestions to staff toward pension reform while Trustees Stelios Aktipis, Gerald Wolin and Michael Manzo supported a third party, independent investigation into the Sheahan matter.
“Why did the village approve (Sheahan’s) contract without reviewing it?” Manzo asked, adding Sheahan’s contract was very favorable to the former chief beyond SLEP. “Molaro cost this village a little over $750,000 and was later rewarded with (a $5,000-per-month lobbyist) contract? How embarrassing is that?”
Wolin and Aktipis believed there was no “conspiracy,” behind the Sheahan/Molaro/SLEP issue and felt an outside investigation would show that.
“I am very much in favor of shining some light on the issue,” Aktipis said. “Although I believe this whole idea of a conspiracy is preposterous, I have no problem whatsoever seeing an independent, outside party investigating this to put this subject completely out in the open.”
Village President Lalmalani and Village Manager Dave Niemeyer addressed the Sheahan/SLEP issue during a meeting Saturday with homeowner association presidents. Lalmalani said the village will continue working with state representatives in hopes of reversing the Molaro legislation.
Trustees were expected to debate the matter in executive session Tuesday night.