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Article updated: 9/14/2011 5:06 AM

Gurnee police chief departs with $139,600 package after employee complaints

Gurnee Police Robert Jones will receive a package worth $139,602 from a "retirement/separation agreement" approved by the village board. Monday night's deal came in the wake of Jones being on administrative leave with pay after employee complaints led to an investigation of his conduct by a Chicago law firm.

Gurnee Police Robert Jones will receive a package worth $139,602 from a "retirement/separation agreement" approved by the village board. Monday night's deal came in the wake of Jones being on administrative leave with pay after employee complaints led to an investigation of his conduct by a Chicago law firm.

 
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Gurnee Police Chief Robert Jones will receive a package worth about $139,600 from a "retirement/separation agreement" approved by the village board.

Monday night's deal came in the wake of Jones being on administrative leave with pay since mid-July after unspecified employee complaints led to an investigation of his conduct by a Chicago law firm hired by the village.

Mayor Kristina Kovarik said the probe ended in mid-August after Jones indicated a desire to retire. Village employees were interviewed, but Jones was not, she said.

The accusations against Jones "never, ever, ever, ever" had the potential to be criminal, Kovarik said.

"These were just core employee handbook violations that triggered this," she said Tuesday.

Trustees Kirk Morris and Greg Garner voted against the deal after emerging from a closed-door session Monday night. Morris said no information was provided to trustees regarding the accusations against Jones.

"I object to making a decision without information," Morris said. "I have no idea if this a good deal or a bad deal."

Jones' retirement from his $140,000-a-year job starts Thursday. He became Gurnee's top cop in 1994 after a 26-year career at the Elmhurst Police Department.

Under the retirement/separation deal obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, Jones will remain on the public payroll until he departs. He didn't return a message seeking comment.

Documents state Jones, 65, elected to retire and the village "desires to enhance" his benefits.

On Sept. 29, Jones will receive $95,759 in severance, $25,625 in unused vacation compensation, $600 in prorated longevity pay, $2,762 for accrued sick leave since December 2010 and $14,855 for eight months of medical and dental insurance. It adds up to $139,601.

In addition, Jones gets to keep a village-issued BlackBerry and corresponding telephone number, and will become responsible for the bills beginning Thursday. Kovarik said the BlackBerry is about four years old.

"He's attached to it," Kovarik said. "Not a biggie."

She said Jones' compensation package is similar to what he would have received if he were not reappointed in May 2012. For example, he would have been eligible for six months of pay and money for unused sick time under village policy.

Kovarik said he'll wind up with about two months' extra compensation through the retirement/separation agreement. She expects Jones to return his village-owned car this week.

Male and female police department employees filed the complaints against Jones with Village Administrator James Hayner's office, Kovarik said. The accusations didn't go back more than 12 months.

Nearly 30 hours of work by attorneys Jeffrey Fowler and Joseph Gagliardo occurred on the Jones investigation from June 30 to July 20, according to bills submitted to Gurnee by the Laner Muchin law firm. The tab as of Tuesday was $5,758.

That figure includes $2,258 in public money for a nearly nine-hour meeting Fowler had with Hayner at an unspecified location July 11.

Jones, who forfeited his right to sue the village as part of the agreement, went on paid administrative leave July 14. He'll receive a retirement star and identification as a former Gurnee police chief.

Kevin Woodside has been appointed interim police chief. Woodside has been a deputy chief.

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