Island Lake mayor suspends police chief

Island Lake Police Chief Anthony Sciarrone has been placed on paid administrative leave by the mayor, surprising members of the village board.

Mayor Debbie Herrmann announced the action against Sciarrone in an e-mail to the board Monday morning. She did not explain the decision in the e-mail, saying only "this matter is under investigation."

Herrmann declined to comment late Monday. Sciarrone could be reached for comment.

Board member Connie Mascillino, a political ally of Herrmann, said she "had no idea" the mayor was taking action against Sciarrone until she read the e-mail.

Mascillino spoke with Herrmann about the move and said the mayor did not fully explain why Sciarrone was removed from his post.

She said she has questions about the decision but declined to elaborate.

Trustee Donna O'Malley, another Herrmann ally, said she also was surprised by the move. The mayor did not consult the board, she said.

The announcement comes a few weeks after Herrmann confirmed she ordered police officer Fred Manetti taken off the street for undisclosed reasons. She refused to explain why Manetti was being placed on leave.

When asked last month if she has the power to supersede the chief's office and suspend Manetti, Herrmann said: "As the mayor, I have executive authority over the police department."

Trustee Laurie Rabattini, a regular Herrmann critic, called the move against Sciarrone "outrageous" and wondered if it was some sort of political retribution.

"He's an excellent officer," she said. "It's suspicious timing, that's for sure."

Trustee John Ponio, another Herrmann foe, said he's requested a special board meeting be held to discuss the matter.

"As far as I'm aware, Tony's been doing a great job," Ponio said.

Sciarrone had run the police department since March 2008. He replaced Chief John Fellmann, at first on an interim basis.

Sciarrone will continue collecting his $85,738 annual salary, village Finance Director John Little said.

Herrmann designated Detective Matt duChemin to manage the department's day-to-day operations, said Trustee Don Verciglio, a Herrmann ally. The board was not consulted on the appointment.

DuChemin has been with the department since 2003, according to the village's Web site.

The village board is next scheduled to meet Thursday, Feb. 25.