West, 2 others, to get new lawyers in harassment suit

Updated 5/10/2011 6:01 PM
  • Chuck West

    Chuck West

The Kane County State's Attorney's office will not defend Coroner Chuck West and two others in a lawsuit brought by his former second-in-command claiming he retaliated because she blew the whistle on the theft of a television that resulted in criminal misconduct charges against West.

"There are really just conflicts of multiple layers in this case," State's Attorney Joe McMahon said Tuesday.

McMahon's office will ask Judge Robert Spence on May 17 to appoint attorneys -- for whom the county will pay -- to represent West and two deputy coroners being sued by Loren Carrera for harassment and violating the Illinois Whistleblower's Act.

In making the decision, McMahon said he consulted with attorneys in his office's civil division along with ethics lawyers from a downtown Chicago firm, who will not be allowed to be appointed by Spence.

Some potential areas of conflict were that prosecutors interviewed Carrera as part of the criminal investigation of West.

West faces felony misconduct charges that he took a television from a dead Carpentersville man's home. If convicted, he could be sentenced to anywhere from probation to five years in prison.

He is due again in court Thursday and a special prosecutor, Charles Colburn of the Illinois Appellate Prosecutors Office, has been called in to handle the case.

Carrera, who is still employed by the office, filed a civil suit in late March seeking more than $50,000 in damages against West and Deputy Coroners Lisa Gilbert and Eric West, who is West's son.

Because the lawsuit against the three pertains to their actions as county employees, taxpayers could be on the hook for any type of monetary award.

"All three defendants requested that outside counsel be appointed after reviewing the issue of conflict of interest," McMahon said. "It is disappointing this cost is going to be passed onto the county and ultimately the taxpayers, but that's the situation this lawsuit put is in."