Former Richmond, Hebron police officer charged with misconduct

RICHMOND – A former nine-year veteran of the Hebron Police Department has been charged with official misconduct, possession of a stolen firearm and burglary, only three days after he was fired from the Richmond Police Department for failing to show up for work.

Ryszard T. Kopacz, 30, of Wauconda was charged by the Illinois State Police as a result of an ongoing investigation and was released from the McHenry County Jail on Thursday after posting $10,000 bail.

The Richmond Police Department also is conducting an investigation into a resident complaint that Kopacz was going door to door on July 4 in a Richmond neighborhood, asking for prescription drugs while in full uniform and on duty as a village police officer, the department said in a news release.

Kopacz was fired from his position as a part-time officer July 6 after failing to show up to work on July 5 without calling in, department spokesman Sgt. David Byrnes said. The department also notified the State Police at that time of the July 4 incident.

Under department policy, internal department matters like this are referred to the State Police to avoid any conflicts of interest, he said. Additional charges may be filed as a part of that investigation.

Kopacz, according to charging documents, was in possession of stolen weapons – a Winchester Model 94 and a .30 caliber U.S. Carbine – which he allegedly stole from the Hebron Police Department.

The official misconduct charges stem from possession of the stolen weapons. The most serious charge against Kopacz is punishable by between three to seven years in prison.

He appeared in rights court Thursday morning with private counsel, who told Judge Robert Wilbrandt that Kopacz was honorably discharged from the Army after having served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wheeling defense attorney Steven Goldman, asked that Kopacz's bond be set at $50,000, while prosecutors asked for $250,000. His next court date is July 16.

Kopacz had been with the Richmond Police Department less than a week when he was fired, Byrnes said, adding that all hires go through a comprehensive background investigation, including a full psychological evaluation, before being hired.

"Like any business in the world, there are just bad apples out there," Byrnes said.

He had been previously employed as a full-time police supervisor in Hebron for nine years and was let go, Byrnes said Richmond was told, due to "budgetary reasons."

Hebron Trustee Mark Mogan said he hadn't been given a reason for the firing. He was aware Kopacz had been fired but his questions to Village President John Jacobson about why went unanswered, he said.

Mogan questioned why the 9-year veteran of the force would be the first victim of budget cuts.

"If that's true, it wouldn't make sense to let him got when he has someone under him, seniority-wise," Mogan said. "If they're going to start cutting people, wouldn't the newest person be cut first?"

Hebron Trustee Susan Ritzert – who, like Mogan, has been critical of Jacobson in the past – remained skeptical of the charges filed by state police.

Both trustees said they'd learned of Kopacz's arrest Thursday.

"I really don't believe he did this," Ritzert said.

• Reporter Chelsea McDougall contributed to this report.