Village hires investigator to study Sheahan pension
Updated: September 17, 2012 12:50PM
OAK BROOK — Trustees have approved the hiring of an investigator to look into how two former Oak Brook employees left the village with a $750,000 unfunded pension liability.
Trustees Tuesday approved the hiring of William Seith of Bryce Downey and Lenkov, at a cost of $25,000. Village President Gopal Lalmalani broke a 3-3 vote by trustees to hire the low bidder.
Trustees Mike Manzo, Mark Moy and Asif Yusuf voted in favor of the hiring; trustees Elaine Zannis, Gerald Wolin and Stelios Aktipis voted against. Three bids were received from investigators, ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 plus expenses.
Zannis had suggested hiring Patrick Collins from Perkins and Coie for $42,500, saying she believed Collins would provide a better product.
A report is due in 90 days and will be released publicly.
The investigation will study how 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. The legislation affected only one person in Illinois: Sheahan.
The legislation allowed Sheahan to transfer his previous pension credits to Oak Brook. Sheahan resigned as chief in 2011 after slightly more than six years with the Oak Brook Police Department.
Molaro was appointed as a $5,000 per month lobbyist by the village in 2009.
Trustees are looking to have the following questions answered:
What are the fact surrounding the appointment and approval of Tom Sheahan as police chief in 2005 and the negotiation and approval of his contract in 2005?
What are the facts surrounding the enactment of the 2007 legislation that Sheahan took advantage of to transfer his Chicago pension credits, substantially increasing Oak Brook’s pension liability?
What are the facts surrounding the retention of Molaro as a lobbyist for the village in 2009, including any connection between that retention and Sheahan as well as the 2007 legislation?
Based on facts determined during the investigation, did any trustees act improperly with regard to any connection between the hiring of Sheahan, the passage of the 2007 legislation and the retention of Molaro?
The board also is requesting that any evidence uncovered during the investigation indicating illegal or unethical activity be disclosed to the Village Board.
Moy questioned spending money on the investigation.
“I question to what end we’re doing this investigation,” he said. “This investigation has a handicap. We have no subpoena power; you’ll get no cooperation from the top players in this. I don’t see the benefits, and I think the cost is way too high.”
Wolin also questioned whether anything substantial would come out of the investigation, but added the board owed it to Oak Brook residents to attempt to get answers through the investigation.
Aktipis questioned conducting interviews with investigators during a closed session by the board.
“The justification used for acting secretly was that the lawsuit by Tom Sheahan could be discussed,” Aktipis said. “Yet this closed meeting was about selecting an investigator to collect and analyze data and information and not about the Sheahan lawsuit.”
Lalmalani said the interviews were conducted in closed session because they also were used as strategy sessions, something he didn’t believe should be done in open session.
“We intend to get to the bottom of this and let our residents know what we find,” Lalmalani said.