McHenry Co. sheriff sues to overturn rival's reinstatement

McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren is suing to overturn an arbitrator's decision to put the sheriff's campaign rival, Zane Seipler, back on the force despite Nygren's decision to fire him.

The litigation, filed this week in McHenry County Circuit Court, claims arbitrator Martin Malin exceeded his authority and made a bad decision when he overruled Seipler's firing and instead imposed a three-day suspension.

"(The) award vacating Seipler's termination for just cause is repugnant to public policy," Nygren attorney Ericka Thomas states in the 80-page filing.

"I find Keith Nygren's wasting of taxpayers' money repugnant," Seipler replied Wednesday. "It was a fair decision."

Nygren fired Seipler in November 2008 after an investigation revealed two cases in which he pulled over Hispanic men driving without a license, told them to switch seats with a female passenger and then ticketed the woman. In one instance the woman was cited for driving without insurance. In the other, the woman received a warning for speeding.

Seipler admitted he made mistakes, saying he was trying to give some young drivers a break. Nygren said the actions violated the moral authority of police officers and perhaps violated the law.

The suit asks a judge to overturn Malin's decision and order a second round of arbitration. It is scheduled to make its first court appearance May 11 before Judge Michael Caldwell.

Nygren, a three-term incumbent, and Seipler are running against one another for the Republican party nomination for sheriff in the Feb. 2 primary election.