WOODSTOCK – A judge did not make a decision on Monday on whether a special prosecutor will be appointed to investigate Sheriff Keith Nygren, and instead scheduled a hearing at which State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi likely will be called to testify.
Deputy Zane Seipler has accused the sheriff of using a seven-point star for both political and official purposes. Nygren’s actions, Seipler’s attorney has said, amount to theft, official misconduct and misappropriation of funds.
At the heart of the matter is a letter written by Bianchi to Seipler’s attorney, Blake Horwitz.
Horwitz has said that the letter proves there is a policy that prevents the state’s attorney’s office from investigating Nygren.
In the letter, Bianchi states that “with very few exceptions, our office would not investigate the Sheriff, nor prosecute him, under circumstances where allegations have been made such as those asserted by your client.”
Bianchi has said that he has not looked at the merits of Seipler’s claims.
The letter led to a deposition of Bianchi, during which he said that he made the decision not to investigate the sheriff in order to save money through in-house handling of cases involving Nygren's
office, rather than hiring private attorneys.
On Monday, Judge Thomas Meyer denied several motions filed on behalf of the county, including one that asked him to make a decision on whether a special prosecutor would be appointed. Seipler’s request for a special prosecutor initially was made more than two years ago.
Meyer scheduled a hearing for April 11, at which time Bianchi likely will be called to the stand. Meyer said the focus would be on whether Bianchi was exercising his discretion when he said he wouldn’t investigate the sheriff, or whether Bianchi has an “inability to attend.”
Seipler was fired by Nygren in 2008, but went back to work last week after an appellate court ruled in Seipler’s favor and the Illinois Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by Nygren.
Seipler, who ran against Nygren in a Republican primary election, also has a civil rights lawsuit against Nygren pending in federal court, accusing the sheriff of firing him for blowing the whistle on racial profiling within the department.