Des Plaines aldermen to vote on paying Alderman Dick Sayad's legal bills
Des Plaines aldermen vote concerns Sayad trespassing case
Des Plaines aldermen are scheduled to vote Monday on whether the city should fund Alderman Dick Sayad's defense in his criminal trespassing case.
A simple majority vote of the 8-member council may determine whether the city provides a lawyer for Sayad when he goes to Cook County circuit court in Skokie April 10, or if the city reimburses the legal fees of an attorney he hires.
Some council members told the Daily Herald last week that the city should pay for Sayad's defense, since they say he was acting in his official capacity as alderman when he entered a private home Feb. 25 to discuss a ticket the homeowners received for not clearing a public sidewalk.
Whether Sayad casts a vote on the matter isn't known, though City Manager Mike Bartholomew said Thursday he's already asked General Counsel Peter Friedman to research whether the 4th Ward alderman should recuse himself.
Sayad said Thursday he doesn't know if he'll refrain from voting.
"I have to first find out what is gonna happen there and wait and see what the motions are and how it's gonna be. If I recuse myself, maybe should the mayor recuse himself too?" said Sayad, in reference to Mayor Matt Bogusz, who is supporting Sayad's opponent Mark Setzer in the April 7 election. "I'm gonna wait and see, and see how things play out."
Bogusz didn't respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Sayad was charged with criminal trespassing to property Feb. 27, two days after he walked into the house on the 400 block of Harvey Avenue.
According to a police report, Sayad said he knocked on the unlocked back door and when no one answered, went inside and walked upstairs, thinking it was a two-flat. He then knocked on a second door, which was answered by homeowner Dave Uhrich, who was teaching a lesson in his upstairs music studio.
Sayad told police the situation was all a big mistake and denied committing any crime.
A 1988 city ordinance makes it possible for the city to fund Sayad's defense. The ordinance states that lawsuits filed against elected city officials "in their capacity as employees or agents of the city shall be defended by the city. Any judgments or expenses resulting therefrom shall be paid by the city unless a determination or finding is made that the elected or appointed official acted outside the scope of his position."
While the case technically is a criminal charge, Bartholomew said the city ordinance could be interpreted so that the case falls under the auspices of a lawsuit.
And while the ordinance is unclear who decides whether an official acted "outside the scope of his position," Bartholomew believes it is the council's call.
Bartholomew said Sayad told him this week he wants the matter on the agenda for Monday night's meeting.
Two aldermen, Jim Brookman and Patti Haugeberg, told the Daily Herald last week they believe the city should pay for Sayad's defense, while one alderman, Don Smith, declared his opposition. Others were on the fence.
If the council votes to fund Sayad's defense, Bartholomew said, the money will come from the city's general fund. That's because officials from the city's insurance carrier, Municipal Insurance Cooperative Agency, said criminal offenses aren't covered under the city's policy.
The city council meets at 7 p.m. Monday at 1420 Miner St.