More federal agencies say NIU investigation continues

DeKALB – While it remains unclear if the U.S. Attorney's office intends to bring charges stemming from a 2013 FBI raid of Northern Illinois University, other federal agencies confirmed Thursday that they are still investigating.

In March 2013, FBI agents locked down the Police and Public Safety building on campus as part of a search believed to be focused on two NIU administrators: Eddie Williams, the former chief of operations and executive vice president of finance and facilities, and Donald Grady, the former police chief.

NIU officials and Grady's attorney said they each were told earlier this year by the U.S. Attorney's office that the investigation was closed.

"We called the U.S. attorney's office on Jan. 11. We asked what's the status of the case and they said 'we consider that matter closed,' " said NIU spokesman Joe King. He said the university was told that "barring new facts, the university should not expect to hear from the Department of Justice about the matter."

Mike Fox, who is representing Grady in the former NIU police chief's wrongful termination civil lawsuit against the university, said a point person on his team of lawyers was contacted and given a similar comment.

"We simply don't know what is going on. We only know what we have been told and what we haven't been told," Fox said. "So while these two years have gone by, we've never been told that Chief Grady was a target of the investigation. ... That's what we haven't been told. Now we've been told that the investigation was closed and no charges would be forthcoming."

The warrant requested all police records relating to the Eden’s Garden housing development, including “all communications between Donald P. Grady and Eddie R. Williams relating to Eden’s Gardens, including correspondence, memoranda, notes, and audio recordings of meetings and telephone calls.”

Attempts to reach the Rev. Williams at the South Park Baptist Church on the South Side of Chicago, where he is a pastor, were not successful. He also did not immediately respond to emails sent to him.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Fitzpatrick said Thursday that his office could not speak on the probe, including whether or not it was ongoing. He referred the issue back to the FBI.

"This is not a matter of public record," Fitzgerald said.

But FBI spokesman Garrett Coon said earlier this week the criminal investigation was ongoing. The FBI was the lead investigating agency on the case, according to a March 2013 news release, working with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General and Illinois State Police.

The federal education department is still delving.

"Yes, the investigation is ongoing – that’s all we can say at this time, as it is our policy to keep confidential the details of any ongoing work," said Catherine Grant, a spokeswoman for U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General. "This longstanding policy is in place to protect and maintain the integrity of our work."

A spokesperson with the HUD inspector general's office said that agency would not comment.

Joe King said that over the years, NIU has provided additional documents and computer file information that investigators requested. However, King said, the university never learned specifically what the FBI or any of the other participating agencies were looking for.

He added that the university stands by its belief that the criminal case is closed.