Oak Brook to seek investigator to study Sheahan pension
Updated: July 2, 2012 10:09AM
A proposed investigation will attempt to find out how two former Oak Brook employees left the village with a $750,000 unfunded pension liability.
Former Oak Brook Police Chief Tom Sheahan, appointed in 2005, used a piece of 2007 legislation proposed by then State Rep. Robert Molaro to boost his pension at the expense of Oak Brook’s taxpayers. Molaro was then appointed as a $5,000 per month lobbyist by the village in 2009.
Oak Brook trustees Tuesday appeared ready to pursue an outside investigator to look into the matter. Trustee Stelios Aktipis said the investigation will look for evidence that anyone, including past village presidents, trustees, village managers or attorneys engaged in any “pay for play” activity.
The increasing pressure to pursue an independent investigator comes days after the village learned a lawsuit from former village president John Craig, Sheahan and former Sky Bar owner Iwona Burnat was re-filed.
“Clearly now it’s timely because a lot of our investigation will take place and we can package them together,” Aktipis said. “It’s important to shed some light on events that led to the last scandal that is part of this lawsuit. We may gain information to actually defend it.”
Trustee Elaine Zannis said Oak Brook residents were at a disadvantage by not hearing the village’s side on these issues. She said she wanted an investigation prior to the new board being sworn in last year. Aktipis later stated they were outvoted by the new board on that decision.
Trustee Mike Manzo, however, said the investigation the previous board wanted was about the Oak Brook Police Department and not related to Sheahan or Molaro.
“There are very few coincidences when it comes to defrauding taxpayers,” Manzo said. “Are we to believe Molaro woke up one day and decided to pass a piece of legislation that affected only one person in the State of Illinois?
“Supporters of that chief won the election and (Molaro) was brought on as a lobbyist when (the village) already had one working for free. This will not be swept under the rug. Those who took advantage of us are lying in wait and are not done. They’re one election away from doing it again.”
Manzo and Trustee Mark Moy will begin interviewing investigators and finalists will come to the board for approval. A conflict briefly arose Tuesday when Zannis asked to be part of the interview process. Manzo said that would violate the open meetings act.
Aktipis supported Zannis and suggested holding open meetings.
“(Manzo and Moy) will be screening them and bring them back to the board,” said Village President Gopal Lalmalani, who said he would take Zannis’ request under advisement.