Schaumburg settles first of lawsuits against officers in drug case
Schaumburg trustees on Tuesday approved a settlement in the first of 12 lawsuits filed against the village after three former police officers were arrested on drug conspiracy charges in January 2013.
Tuesday's settlement pays plaintiff Justin Holmstrom $5,000 with no admission of any liability or wrongdoing by the village or its employees.
Schaumburg's attorney, Jim Sotos, said most of the 12 lawsuits allege some combination of false arrest, illegal search or malicious prosecution by former officers Terrance O'Brien, Matthew Hudak and John Cichy -- either collectively or individually.
The three officers were accused of shaking down drug dealers they had arrested.
Holmstrom's suit had the slight distinction of claiming he had been unlawfully detained by Hudak while being enlisted as a confidential informant, Sotos said.
Hudak and O'Brien already have pleaded guilty to specific charges -- Hudak receiving 26 years in prison and O'Brien 24 years in prison. Cichy is still seeking a jury trial.
As far as the lawsuits against the officers, all seek compensation for alleged abuses of their authority.
In beginning to look at the cases, Sotos said he took the approach that nothing O'Brien, Hudak and Cichy could say would stand up in court -- whether true or not. Instead, he looked for independent evidence of probable cause for the searches and arrests. He said he found such evidence in every case.
"We view these to be very defensible cases," Sotos said. "The truth is, when we went into this, I didn't know what we were going to find."
Sotos said the decision to seek settlements was based on a desire to save money on expensive court proceedings. But if some plaintiffs don't want to settle, the village is more than ready to defend itself, Sotos said.
In fact, a 13th lawsuit was dropped when the plaintiff was confronted with the village's evidence, Sotos said.
Holmstrom's attorneys did not return phone calls seeking comment Tuesday.