Drew Peterson's son filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit Tuesday accusing Oak Brook's former police chief of conspiring with another official to boot him from his job as a police officer after his father's murder case drew negative attention to the upscale community.
The lawsuit filed in federal court claims former Police Chief Thomas Sheahan vowed he was "going to get" Stephen Peterson and ruin him financially after Peterson testified before a grand jury in his Oak Brook police uniform and later admitted he had taken several of his father's guns for safekeeping during his murder investigation.
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"He may get his job back in a few years, but in the interim he will lose his house, his wife will leave him, and his dog will be dead," Sheahan threatened, according to the suit, which seeks at least $2 million in damages.
Neither Sheahan nor an attorney who once represented him could immediately be reached for comment Tuesday. He is accused of conspiring with former Oak Brook Police Commission Chairman Fredrick Cappetta to oust the younger Peterson, who had been an officer in Oak Brook since September 2004. Cappetta did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Village Manager David Niemeyer declined to comment.
Drew Peterson, the former Bolingbrook cop accused of killing his third wife, is scheduled to stand trial later this month in Will County. Sheahan resigned as Oak Brook chief in May after union officers gave his leadership a vote of no confidence.
Stephen Peterson's lawsuit claims Sheahan spread false rumors that Stephen Peterson and his father had met at a bar and rehearsed an alibi for their whereabouts on the night Drew Peterson's fourth wife Stacy went missing in 2007. Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow was unable corroborate the alleged conversation but it was reported by Geraldo Rivera on "Geraldo at Large," a nationally syndicated television show, the complaint contends.
Stephen Peterson also accuses the former chief of trying to get him arrested after he testified that his father had given him three guns for safekeeping. Prosecutors declined to file charges, according to the lawsuit, but Sheahan eventually brought administrative charges against Peterson, advising his staff to avoid documenting that Peterson was cooperative in the investigation and to avoid calling him as a witness at his own hearing. Peterson was fired in February 2011 and remains unemployed.
The complaint outlines several other allegations as well, including that Sheahan sent a book, "How to Live Like a Lady: Lessons in Life, Manners and Style" along with his business card to Peterson's girlfriend. He also is accused of threatening to castrate Peterson, who had previously received high marks on performance reviews.
The lawsuit levels charges including defamation and slander, breach of contract, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It names the village, Sheahan, and Cappetta as defendants.
Stephen Peterson's attorney, John DeRose, declined to comment.