Island Lake officials to discuss chief's suspension

Just a few days after Island Lake Mayor Debbie Herrmann suspended the town's police chief, village board members are set to gather behind closed doors to discuss the matter.

The executive-session agenda for the special meeting, scheduled for 8 p.m. today at village hall, includes only one item: personnel. Trustees say they'll ask Herrmann to explain why she placed Chief Anthony Sciarrone on paid administrative leave without first consulting them.

"That was the main purpose of the meeting," Trustee Don Verciglio said Wednesday. "I'm curious."

But some trustees wonder if Herrmann, who did not respond to repeated interview requests Wednesday, will even show up. Trustee Don Seville said he'd be "pleasantly surprised" if enough board members are present to legally begin a meeting.

Four are needed to establish a quorum.

Herrmann surprised the board members Monday morning when she sent an e-mail saying Sciarrone, chief since 2008, was out as Island Lake's top cop. He will continue earning an $85,738 annual salary, however.

Officials later learned detective Matt duChemin was put in charge of the department's day-to-day operations.

"She should have at least informed us ahead of time as to what was going to happen, so we wouldn't get blindsided," Verciglio said.

Herrmann has refused to publicly say why she benched Sciarrone. Trustee John Ponio believes the board is owed an explanation.

"Even if she has the authority, it doesn't make it right to do it the way she did it," Ponio said.

It's not the first time Herrmann has tinkered with police personnel. Last month, she confirmed she ordered police officer Fred Manetti taken off the street for undisclosed reasons.

Because Sciarrone was an interim chief appointed to the post by former mayor Thomas Hyde, Herrmann has the right to rescind that appointment, said Scott Puma, the village's attorney.

Puma declined to say why Herrmann suspended Sciarrone. When asked if there was an internal investigation, Puma said "not exactly."

Although Verciglio and other trustees said the full board agreed to hold the meeting, at least one won't attend.

Trustee Donna O'Malley said she's been advised by the village's attorney not to attend the meeting.

Verciglio said he received no such advice. Trustee Connie Mascillino said she's spoken with Puma but added no one advised her not to attend the meeting. Mascillino declined to comment further.

Puma said he communicated with all six board members ahead of tonight's meeting, but declined to comment on the substance of the conversation. He declined to say whether he advised O'Malley to skip the meeting.

Although the bulk of the meeting will be closed to the public, residents will be able to address the board about Sciarrone's ouster or other issues at the start of the meeting.